|Holocene||(➚ early history )|
|late bronze age|
|middle bronze age|
|early bronze age|
|Old Stone Age|
The term "Bronze Age" was introduced in a museum catalog in 1836 by the Danish prehistorian Christian Jürgensen Thomsen from Copenhagen . It corresponds to the middle level of the three-period system developed by Thomsen , which divides in particular the European and Mediterranean prehistory and early history into the Stone Age , the Bronze Age and the Iron Age . The three-part division according to the material used is largely on Europe , West Asia and North Africato restrict. Since the term refers exclusively to the material used extensively, the assignment of a culture to this period does not say anything about its cultural level. The beginning of the advanced cultures of the Near East and Egypt fell in the late Neolithic , the Copper and the early Bronze Ages.
The production of bronze continued in the 3rd millennium BC. A. The roots of the Bronze Age lie in the preceding Copper Age , or in the regions in which this is not defined as a separate period, in the Neolithic , in which people were already familiar with metalworking in their younger periods. However, they were limited to solid (pure) metals such as gold , silver and copper . Bronze is an alloy consisting of 90% copper and 10% tin , and is much harder than copper.
Due to the history of research, the discovery and research of the Bronze Age took place mainly in Europe and the Middle East. Differentiation, definition of terms for individual cultures, terminology and detailed studies have their focus in this region. This effect can also be found analogously in the history of Stone Age research.
What the Bronze Age cultures have in common is that the need to organize a “ metallurgy chain ” led to serious upheavals in the structure of society. Access to and mastery of resources (metals, metallurgists, communication and trade routes) led to the formation of an upper class and thus presumably to social differentiation with inheritable leadership positions. With the bronze it was possible for the first time to accumulate wealth, which was also easily transportable. Bronze ingots were used as a means of payment. The emergence of strongly fortified settlements and the invention of the sword are often interpreted as an indication of an increase in armed or predatory conflicts.
The unequal distribution of the metal deposits, especially the very rare tin required for production, led to a “global” trade network that spread cultural ideas in addition to goods. The discovery of a late Bronze Age merchant ship ( Uluburun ship ) impressively proves the diversity of goods that were traded over long distances.
Regional expressions of the Bronze Age
The Middle East is considered to be the starting point for European bronze technology. From there, the new material and the necessary know-how were exported. In Palestine , bronze production dates back to 3300 BC. Proven in Egypt around 2700 BC. BC, in Central Europe around 2200 BC And in Northern Europe around 1800 BC. The Bronze Age thus represents a development process that spreads over time and space, from which a multitude of archaeological cultures and area-dependent structures result. In general, it is divided into Early, Middle, and Late or Younger Bronze Age, the absolute dates of which follow the general process of expansion.
In contrast to the European, Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronze Age cultures, the first writings were already developed (compare Illiteracy ). Examples are the hieroglyphs in Egypt, the cuneiform script in the Middle East and the linear script B of the Mycenaean culture . The archaeological findings can thus be supplemented, corrected and evaluated with written sources for the first time. The rulers and dynasties known from the written sources replace the term “Bronze Age” as a tool for the chronological classification of events in science.
Europe and Middle East
- The times are approximate, more precise in the individual articles. The Iron Age followed after the Bronze Age .
The climate of the Bronze Age fell largely into the Late Warm Age, the climatic stage of the Subboreal , which had already begun in the Neolithic and lasted until around 800 BC. Lasted. It was a time of transition in which mixed oak forests , but also beech, beech-fir or pure spruce forests ( forest communities of Central Europe ) grew in Europe .
In the forests of Central Europe in the Bronze Age, among other things, brown bears ( Ursus arctos ), wolves ( Canis lupus ), red deer or noble deer ( Cervus elaphus ), aurochs ( Bos primigenius ) and wild boars ( Sus scrofa ) lived on larger mammals . Finds of lion bones, in one case even with human cuts, depictions of the Mycenaean culture and the saga of Heracles and the Nemean lion show that in Bronze Age Greece, wild lions ( Panthera leo ) were still hunted and even eaten.
One of the most important events of the Middle Bronze Age - especially for Europe and the Middle East - is the Minoan eruption and its consequences. It is dated differently: Some more recent 14 C dates speak for the years 1620 to 1600 BC due to the successful radiocarbon dating of the branch of an olive tree buried by the volcanic eruption , which was found in the pumice layer of the island of Thera in November 2002 . BC (1613 BC ± 13 years).
The total amount of magma released in the eruption was approximately 30 billion cubic meters . Above all, a very gas-rich rhyodacitic magma was released, which expanded so much when it emerged that almost the entire amount of it was ejected as pumice and ash with three times its volume. A large part of the fine ash was carried in a gigantic eruption cloud up to about 36 kilometers into the stratosphere . The eruption probably led to global climatic fluctuations through its penetration into the stratosphere there through the finest ash particles and gases. Ash and pumice stone from the Minoan eruption can still be found in the entire eastern Mediterranean region in different layer thicknesses.
The Bronze Age of Palestine begins around 3300 BC. It was preceded by the Copper Age with a high technical standard of metalworking (see Nachal Mischmar ). The Bronze Age of Palestine is marked by the emergence of city-states . Palestine lies between the high cultures of Egypt , Syria and Mesopotamia and was heavily influenced by them as a transit country.
Overview, including previous periods, in historical Israel, Palestine and the Levant according to Siegfried Herrmann :
|Paleolithic||until 9000 BC Chr.|
|Mesolithic||9000 to 7000 BC Chr.|
|Neolithic||7000 to 3600 BC Chr.|
|Chalcolithic||3600 to 1300 BC Chr.|
|Early bronze age||3100 to 2000 BC Chr.|
|Middle Bronze Age||2000 to 1550 BC Chr.|
|Late Bronze Age||1550 to 1200 BC Chr.|
|Iron Age I-III||1200 to 300 BC Chr.|
|Iron I.||1200 to 900 BC Chr.|
|Iron II||900 to 600 BC Chr.|
|Iron III||600 to 300 BC Chr.|
Early Bronze Age
With the Early Bronze Age (around 3300–2000 BC), many villages were abandoned and new settlements emerged, which certainly had an urban character. Many of them were strongly fortified, which suggests warlike times. The pottery already reached a high technical standard. The ceramics were partly painted. Only a few metal objects have survived from this period, but they show a good knowledge of alloying, although no tin has yet been added to the copper and therefore no real bronze has yet been produced. The dead were buried in mass graves carved directly into the rock. The country was probably organized into city-states. There was ample evidence of widespread trade, although it subsided early with neighboring Egypt as the Egyptians bypassed Palestine by sea to get to Byblos and Syria. From 2400 to 2000 BC There are hardly any archaeological remains from Palestine.
Middle Bronze Age
From 2000 BC The Middle Bronze Age began; this can be referred to as the flowering period. At the beginning of this period the population was nomadic . From 1800 BC Then numerous city systems emerged again. Trade with Egypt flourished. Numerous well-preserved graves from this period come from Jericho , in which mainly wooden objects such as furniture and bowls have been found. Gold jewelry comes from other places. Finds of bronze weapons show that real bronze was now being produced.
Late Bronze Age
From 1550 BC BC Palestine was conquered by Egypt, which means the beginning of the Late Bronze Age in Palestine. The city-states continued to exist, and with the advent of writing, the region now stepped fully into the light of history.
In Mesopotamia , since about 3500 BC. An urban society with central administration, writing, craft specialization and social inequality already developed, which is generally known as the Uruk culture . This Chalcolithic culture existed before the spread of bronze.
Around 3000 BC The trading network established in the Uruk period was first used for the distribution of bronze. Until the end of the Early Dynastic Period, these were exclusively arsenic-copper alloys. From the Akkad period (from 2340 BC) onwards, the trade in tin bronze continued to grow, until it finally ended around 2000 BC. The arsenic bronze completely replaced.
The change in the alloy also resulted in a change in trade relations and thus also in the political and economic constellation of the entire Southwest Asian region. Copper could be imported from Anatolia and the Iranian highlands. However, there are archaeologically and historically documented tin mines only in Afghanistan . But since the Iranian Plateau in the middle was located up to about 2000 BC. If no tin bronze is found in the 2nd century BC, the assumption is that the tin trade came to Mesopotamia via the Persian Gulf.
In the entire Middle East bronze was then at the latest by 1000 BC. Finally replaced by iron as a more suitable material.
The term Bronze Age is rarely used to classify Egyptian history due to the numerous written sources and the preferred order of history according to historical epochs and dynasties. Copper is already around 4000 BC. In the Badari culture , whereby a certain amount of arsenic ( pale ore ) was added to this from the beginning . The following millennium is dominated in Upper Egypt by the Naqada culture and in Lower Egypt by the Maadi culture . Both cultures belong to the Copper Age. The Bronze Age begins shortly after the Egyptian state began to emerge, shortly before 2700 BC. The first real bronze (copper and 7–9% tin) was found in vessels from the tomb of King Chasechemui .
Bader (2015) contrasts the Early Period and the Old Kingdom (around 3000–2200 BC) corresponding to the Early Bronze Age in the Near Eastern cultures , the Middle Kingdom (around 2000–1650 BC) and the Second Intermediate Period (around 1648–1550 BC) as the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom (approx. 1550–1070 BC) as the Late Bronze Age , or lists further differentiations. Only in the Middle Kingdom was bronze really more common, while copper or other copper alloys previously dominated as bronze. Due to the scarcity of raw materials in Egypt, almost all bronze was imported. Stone tools continue to be used throughout the epoch.
The prehistory of South Arabia has so far been little explored. Until around 3200 BC A nomadic way of life seems to have prevailed here. After that, permanent settlements, ceramics and agriculture appear. Different local cultures can be distinguished, the inhabitants of which lived in settlements, some of which were several hectares in size. The timing of the introduction of bronze is a matter of dispute, but copper and copper alloys have been used since around 2500 BC. With certainty attested. It is believed that metal technology was introduced from Palestine. The Iron Age began here in the first millennium BC with the emergence of a high culture.
The Bronze Age in Cyprus , which originated from a period of the Copper Age (around 3900 BC), began around 2600 BC. BC Cyprus is rich in copper deposits and was of particular importance in international trade. It is unclear whether the word "copper" was named after the island with its rich deposits or vice versa. The beginning of the Early Bronze Age appears to have brought about major political changes on the island. Most of the sites are in the north of the island, and there may have been immigrants from Anatolia. Only a few settlement finds were found. This period is best known from the graves.
With the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (around 1900–1650 BC) numerous contacts to other Mediterranean cultures can be documented. Cyprus or an important region of the island is called Alašija in Akkadian cuneiform texts . The end of the period is marked by war. Gun finds are common and settlements have been heavily fortified. This appears to be accompanied by political unrest in Syria and Asia Minor. Trade with Egypt and Palestine increased sharply. Cyprus was now an exporter of copper and small bottles that once contained luxury ointments. With the Cypriot Late Bronze Age (around 1650-1050 BC) cities and a first writing system emerged. Cyprus entered history with it.
Early Greek period
In the third millennium BC Several settlements on Crete developed into central places of handicraft and trade. With the Minoan culture , the first high culture in Europe emerged. An economically dominant upper class emerged, which over the years may have adopted monarchical forms of rule. From approx. 2000 BC Large palace complexes emerged in BC. B. in Knossos , Phaistos and Malia . From this time on, the Minoan culture radiated, at least culturally, increasingly to the Aegean Islands, parts of the Greek mainland and western Asia Minor. On the Greek mainland the Bronze Age is referred to as the Helladic period , on the Cyclades archipelago in the southern Aegean Sea it is known as the Cycladic culture . With the Early Helladic or the Early Cycladic. Already at the beginning of the Late Helladic (approx. 1600 BC), partly at the end of the Middle Helladic , richly furnished shaft graves were created , especially in Mycenae (see also Grave Round B ). These mark the beginning of the Mycenaean culture, which was initially strongly influenced by Minoan . This soon spread to all of southern and larger parts of central Greece during the early late Helladic era. Essential elements of the Minoan palace culture were adopted on the Greek motherland when it was in many regions from around 1400 BC. BC came to the formation of larger centers of power, in particular to palaces in Mycenae, Pylos or Thebes (see also Mycenaean palace times ).
In the western part of the Middle East, the Early Bronze Age is assigned, among other things, the phases Troy I and II, around 3000–2200 BC. Chr.
|Crete||Cyprus||Mainland Greece||Egypt||approximate time frame||corresponds roughly to the archaeological period|
|MM IB, old palace period||MC IB||MH I||Amenemhet II to Nofrusobek ( 12th Dynasty )||Middle Kingdom approx. 2137–1781 BC Chr.||Middle Bronze Age|
|MM II, old palace period||MC II||MH II||Wegaf / Sobekhotep I to Jaib ( 13th Dynasty )||Second intermediate period approx. 1648–1550 BC Chr.||Middle Bronze Age|
|MM III A, old palace period||MC III A||MH II||Aja I. to Hori (13th Dynasty)||1669 to around 1656 BC BC or 1647 BC Chr||Middle Bronze Age|
|MM III B, New Palace period||MC III B||MH III (shaft graves)||Second split time||1648 to 1550 BC Chr.||Transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age|
|SM IA, New Palace period||LC IA||SH I||Ahmose I to Thutmose II ( 18th Dynasty )||New Kingdom approx. 1550-1070 BC Chr.||Late Bronze Age|
|SM IB, New Palace period||LC IB||SH II A||Hatshepsut , Thutmose III. (18th dynasty)||1479 to 1458 BC BC or 1479 BC BC to 1425 BC Chr.||Late Bronze Age|
|SM II||LC II||SH II B||Amenhotep II , Thutmose IV (18th Dynasty)||1428 to 1397 BC BC or 1397 to 1388 BC Chr.||Late Bronze Age|
|SM III A1||LC III||SH III A1||Amenhotep III (18th dynasty)||1388 to around 1351 BC Chr.||Late Bronze Age|
|SM III A2||LC III||SH III A2||
Akhenaten to Tutankhamun / Eje II. (18th dynasty)
( Amarna period 1343-1331 BC)
|approx. 1351-1334 BC BC or 1332 to 1323 BC Chr.||Late Bronze Age|
Central and Northern European Bronze Age
The Bronze Age did not reach the center of Europe (around 2200 BC) and the north of Europe until late. For the Central European Bronze Age, trade contacts to Northern Europe (amber) and the Aegean region have been proven. The rock drawings of Carschenna , a sanctuary on a mule track across the Alps, are evidence of the lively trade contacts . Due to the different forms of burial, the Bronze Age is mainly referred to as the Tumulus Bronze Age and the Urnfield Age . The most important find of the Early Bronze Age in Europe is the Nebra Sky Disc . The gold hats are considered special art objects of this era .
The Bronze Age of Northern Europe and Scandinavia, known as the Nordic Bronze Age (around 1800 BC), began with a delay in line with the spread of the Bronze Age. Copper and tin had to be imported due to the lack of their own deposits. Amber served as a sought-after export good and thus became the “gold of the north”. The metal objects of the Nordic Circle are among the most beautiful preserved products of the Bronze Age. The bronze ( Holstein belt until the turn of the century ) was used as jewelry for a long time.
Eastern European Bronze Age cultures
- Andronowo culture (especially east of the Ural River and Caspian Sea) and chamber tomb culture ( Ural )
- North Pontic Culture ( Black Sea )
- Srubna culture ( Southeast Europe , West Asia )
- Turbino Group (Urals, Eastern Russia, Siberia )
Other European Bronze Age cultures
- Adlerberg culture
- Aunjetitz culture
- Bonnanaro Culture (Sardinia)
- Capo Graziano culture (Aeolian Islands)
- Castelluccio culture (Sicily)
- El Argar culture (Spain)
- Barrow culture
- Nuragic culture (Sardinia)
- Lusatian culture
- Singen culture
- Straubing culture
- Talayotic culture (Balearic Islands)
- Terramare culture (Northern Italy)
- Torre culture (Corsica)
- Pre-Lusatian culture
- Wessex culture
Between about 2200 and 1700 BC In today's Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, the Oxus or oasis culture can be found in the Karakum desert . The area, also named BMAC (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) after the ancient names by its discoverer, already had a high level of pottery and metalworking. Monumental buildings were erected, fields were irrigated. A script seems to have been developed earlier than in China (from around 2300 BC). The reason for the fall of the Oxus culture is not yet clear.
South and East Asia
In India the Indus culture or Indus civilization originated , sometimes also named after Harappa , one of the main excavation sites on the Ravi (Punjab, Pakistan), Harappa or Harappa culture. It was an ancient civilization that began around 2800 BC. Until 1800 BC BC along the Indus in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent.
In China , the Early Bronze Age Xia dynasty (around 2200 BC – 1800 BC) was followed by the Shang dynasty (around 1570–1066 BC, also called Yin). The first finds of written documents in China also date from this period. Bronze was already being processed at that time.
Africa southern of the Sahara
There is no Bronze Age in West Africa, a direct transition from the Neolithic to the Iron Age seems to have taken place here. Axes made of cut stone were found next to those made of iron in the same layers. The new technology probably came from the Maghreb via the Trans-Saharan routes on the one hand , and from Egypt via Nubia on the other .
The classification of prehistory according to the material used, which is common in Europe and the neighboring areas, is not common for the American continent. Nevertheless, one can assign some pre-Columbian cultures to a kind of "Bronze Age". Thus, for the Chimú culture (around 1270 to 1470 AD), bronze production could be proven by finds before they were absorbed in the Inca Empire. Their precursor culture, the Mochica or Moche (1st – 7th centuries), processed copper and a gold-copper alloy called Tumbago . The Mississippi culture (around 900–1600) can be assigned to an early Chalcolithic period .
Well-known American cultures such as the Maya , Toltecs and Aztecs never achieved a greater degree of dissemination of metallic objects with the exception of cult devices, which, however, were mostly made of more or less pure precious metals. Tools, on the other hand, were mainly made of organic material and / or stone.
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- Anthony F. Harding: European Societies in the Bronze Age . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-36477-9 .
- Bernhard Hansel : Gifts to the gods! Treasures of the Bronze Age of Europe . An introduction. In: A. and B. Hansel (eds.): Gaben an die Götter! Bronze Age treasures . Museum for Pre- and Early History Berlin, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-88609-201-1 (catalog for the exhibition, inventory catalog, volume 4).
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- Louise Steel: Cyprus before History. From the earliest settlers to the end of the Bronzeage. Duckworth, London 2004, ISBN 0-7156-3164-0
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- Karl-Heinz Willroth: Settlements of the older Bronze Age. Contributions to settlement archeology and paleoecology of the 2nd millennium BC in southern Scandinavia, northern Germany and the Netherlands. Wachholtz, Hamburg and Neumünster 2013, ISBN 978-3-529-01581-6 .
- Bronze and Urnfield Ages in Europe. Annotated index on the Bronze Age and Urnfield Age, structured geographically (private page)
- Web links on the Bronze Age at archaeologie-online.de
- Overview of the Bronze Age in Upper Franconia (Landscape Museum Obermain)
- Margarita Primas: Bronze Age. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
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- Almut Bick: The Stone Age. Theiss, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-8062-1996-6 .
- Jockenhövel, p. 10.
- Bettina Bader: Egypt and the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age: The Archaeological Evidence. Egyptian Archeology, August 2015, doi: 10.1093 / oxfordhb / 9780199935413.013.35 , see also Early Bronze Age in the Near Eastern Cultures , Middle Bronze Age
- Cyprian Broodbank: The Birth of the Mediterranean World. From the beginnings to the classical age. CH Beck, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-406-71369-9 , pp. 8-16.
- See also table dating of the Minoan eruption
- Newly dated - 100 years are missing from the calculation of ancient times . Scientists are well ahead of the Santorini eruption. Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, April 27, 2006, accessed on May 2, 2011 .
- Walter L. Friedrich: Fire in the sea . The Santorini volcano, its natural history and the legend of Atlantis. 2nd Edition. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-8274-1582-9 , pp. 86 .
- Friedrich WL, Kromer B., Friedrich M., Heinemeier J., Pfeiffer T., Talamo S. (2006): Santorini eruption radiocarbon dated to 1627-1600 BC. In: Science 312 (5773), pp. 548-548; doi: 10.1126 / science.1125087
- Despite this current, scientifically valid age determination, further dates are under discussion ( table dating of the Minoan eruption ). Thus, a valid re-dating of the Minoan eruption also has a strong impact on the chronology, especially of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
- Siegfried Herrmann : History of Israel in the Old Testament period. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Berlin 1973, 3rd edition 1985, p. 43
- Jonathan N. Tubb: Canaanites , London 1998, ISBN 0-7141-2766-3 , pp. 35-36.
- Tubb: Canaanites , p. 37.
- Tubb: Canaanites , pp. 38-39.
- Tubb: Canaanites , pp. 55-56.
- Tubb: Canaanites , pp 64-69.
- Potts: Patterns of Trade in Third Millennium BC Mesopotamia and Iran. 1993, pp. 390-393.
- Potts: Patterns of Trade in Third Millennium BC Mesopotamia and Iran. 1993, pp. 394-396.
- Bettina Bader: Egypt and the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age: The Archaeological Evidence. Egyptian Archeology, August 2015, doi: 10.1093 / oxfordhb / 9780199935413.013.35 , p. 11.
- Manfred Bietak: The chronology of Egypt and the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age culture. Egypt and Levante / Egypt and the Levant., Vol. 3 (1992), pp. 29-37.