Iron Age  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles. The Iron Age as an archaeological term indicates the condition as to civilization and culture of a people using iron as the material for their cutting tools and weapons. The Iron Age is the third principal period of the three-age system created by Christian Thomsen (1788–1865) for classifying ancient societies and prehistoric stages of progress.

In historical archaeology, the ancient literature of the Iron Age includes the earliest texts preserved in manuscript tradition. Sanskrit literature and Chinese literature flourished in the Iron Age. Other text includes the Avestan Gathas, the Indian Vedas and the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible. The principal feature that distinguishes the Iron Age from the preceding ages is the introduction of alphabetic characters, and the consequent development of written language which enabled literature and historic record.

The beginning of the Iron Age in Europe and adjacent areas is characterized by certain forms of implements, weapons, personal ornaments, and pottery, and also by systems of decorative design, which are altogether different from those of the preceding age of bronze. The work of blacksmiths—developing implements and weapons—is hammered into shape, and, as a consequence, gradually departed from the stereotyped forms of their predecessors in bronze, which were cast, and the system of decoration, which in the Bronze Age consisted chiefly of a repetition of rectilinear patterns, gave way to a system of curvilinear and flowing designs. The term "Iron Age" has low chronological value, because it didn't begin simultaneously across the entire world. The dates and context vary depending on the region, and the sequence of ages is not necessarily true for every part of the earth's surface. There are areas, such as the islands of the South Pacific, the interior of Africa, and parts of North and South America, where peoples have passed directly from the use of stone to the use of iron without the intervention of an age of bronze.

The Iron Age is the third of the three-age system of archaeology, which divides human technological prehistory into three periods:

See also

General
Fogou
Lists
List of archaeological periods, List of archaeological sites
Metallurgy
Blast furnace, Roman metallurgy
Other
Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Iron Age" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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