Electric                    Astral               Pre-historical
Universe              Catastrophism        Reconstruction


Articles & Products Supporting the Pre-historical Reconstruction and Plasma Cosmology
 home       features       science/philosophy       wholesale store       used books        contact

Site Section Links

Introduction Material
The Third Story

Cosmology, Origins
The Nature of Time
Nature of Time video
The Nature of Space
The Neutrino Aether
Nature of Force Fields

Geophysical Material
Origin of Modern Geology
Niagara Falls Issues
Climate Change Model
Climate Change Questions

Philosophy Material
Philosophy Links

Reconstruction &
Mythology Material
Modern Mythology Material
Language/Symbol Development
1994 Velikovsky Symposium
Pensee Journals TOC
Selected Velikovskian Article

Miscellaneous Material
Modern Mythology
State of Religious Diversity
PDF Download Files
Open letter to science editors


Shortcomings of the metallurgical
approach to comparative archaeology

Metallurgy and Chronology
Immanuel Velikovsky

This paper, first set in type in the early 1950's, will appear as a supplement to Ramses II and His Time.


In the thirties of the nineteenth century a scholar (1), following in the footsteps of Hesiod and Lucretius, proposed that the past of mankind be divided according to the material from which, in successive ages, historical man manufactured his tools and utensils, differentiating the ages of stone and bone, of bronze, and of iron.  This proposal was successful, and the introduction of further divisions dotted modern books on history and archaeology with letters denoting the "Early," "Middle," and "Late" periods of each age, with subsequent subdivisions of I, II, and sometimes III.  The Early Bronze Age is more accurately called the Copper Age.

Archaeology generally construes its ages either according to the character of pottery or according to the metals used for tools; the latter division is more definite, so that pottery of different kinds is labeled in terms of metal periods, e.g., ceramics of Late Bronze Ia or Early Iron IIb, and so on.  We have already seen the confusion that underlies the division of ceramic ages.  Here we intend to examine briefly the metal ages and their bearing on chronology.

By bringing Egyptian history six or seven centuries closer to our time, do we not cause a displacement of the metal ages?  A sailing vessel takes only two or three days to bring cargo from Egypt to Palestine; the desert road was traversed by Thutmose III with his army in nine days.  One would expect that conventional chronology took into consideration the closeness of countries like Egypt and Palestine; thus, if the beginning of the Iron Age in Palestine is commonly thought to have taken place in -1200, in the time of the Judges, then in the conventional scheme the Iron Age in Egypt must also have started about -1200.

This is not the case.  "There are few subjects that are more disputed than that of the date when iron first came into general use in Egypt" (2).  Consequently there is no ground for fear that the revised chronology will bring confusion to the Bronze-Iron scheme; the confusion is already there.  When the Iron Age began in Egypt cannot be established by relying on conventional chronology.  It is also clear why this is so.  The time of the Nineteenth Dynasty is not antecedent to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty by seven hundred years; they are one and the same.  And the Twentieth Dynasty of Ramses III does not precede the time of Necho II by six centuries but follows it by two centuries.  With such erroneous premises, it is, of course, hopeless to try to establish the time when the Iron Age in Egypt had its beginning.

Keeping this in mind, and in order to reconstruct the succession of ages, we must ask: When did iron come into use for the first time?  When did the process of the extraction of iron from the ore become known?  When did iron replace bronze for most of the purposes for which iron is preferred to bronze in our time?

Iron ore is more widely distributed on the earth than copper or tin, and the metallurgy of iron is simpler than that of bronze (3).  Iron is found in native form in meteorites, making the process of extraction unnecessary.  It is extracted from ore (smelted) by heating at about 500 C.; when it is red-hot it is malleable into the desired form.  The addition of carbon (smelting on charcoal) followed by quick cooling produces steel.  In order to make iron fluid (to melt it) so that it can be poured into molds, a temperature of over 1500 C. is required.

Copper is less generously bestowed by nature; it is found in its native state and is also extracted from malachite and other ore by heating.  Its extraction requires a temperature of about 1085C., at which temperature it also melts and can be poured into molds.  Unlike iron, copper possesses the quality of being malleable in a cold state.  But this is a defect as well as an advantage; it means that the metal is soft.  Hammering strengthens it; too much beating makes it brittle.  Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, is much harder than copper.  The manufacture of alloys marks a definite progress in the metallurgic art; it is an advanced stage by comparison with that when only extraction from ore and hammering into shape were known.

Copper in alloy with zinc is called brass.  This alloy is known from comparatively late times; "brass," the translation of the scriptural nechoshet, really means copper and bronze, without discriminating between them.

Iron ores are found in Egypt in fairly large deposits but of poor quality (4).  Copper was brought from over the border of Egypt proper.  Malachite mines belonging to the Egyptians have been discovered in the southwest Sinai massif.  They were exploited, the inscriptions inform us, as early as during the Old Kingdom; heaps of slag near the mines indicate that extraction was performed on the spot.  Before the end of the Old Kingdom the copper mines of Cyprus were delivering, metal to Egypt.  The island either gave its name to the metal or received its name from it (5).

The high temperature necessary for the extraction and melting of copper (1085C.) was attained by using bellows, as can be seen in ancient Egyptian drawings, and also by constructing furnaces with a flue for draft.  By these means iron could easily be extracted from its ore (smelted) at a lower temperature and hammered into shape.

Tin has not yet been found in the centers of the bronze civilization: Cyprus, Egypt, or Greece.  It was imported from afar for making bronze (6).  Ezekiel (27:12) says that the maritime people of Tyre traded in tin which they brought from Tarshish.  Tin is mentioned earlier by Isaiah (7) and is repeatedly referred to by Homer (8).  Herodotus told of its being imported into Greece, and the "tin islands" probably signify the British Isles (9).  Posidonius in the second century before this era referred to the Iberian Peninsula as the mining source of imported tin (10); so did Pliny, and Diodorus told of its being mined in Cornwall (11).  In the first century of the present era tin was transported by way of Egypt to India (12).

As it is generally supposed that Stone Age man crossed the sea only by chance and not in regular voyages, the copper period of the Bronze Age must have seen the conquest of the sea, and Bronze Age man must have already developed a sea trade in tin.

In Egypt the copper period began in pre-dynastic times, and the Old Kingdom is also regarded as belonging to the age of copper.  There are only a few bronze objects left from the end of the Old Kingdom (Sixth Dynasty).  The Bronze Age embraces the Middle Kingdom and lasts until some indefinite date.  The divergence of opinions regarding the beginning of the Iron Age in Egypt is extremely great.  "The date of the commencement of the Iron Age in Egypt is perennially discussed, and unfortunately but little fresh evidence comes along as time progresses" (13).

The Iron Age in Egypt "may yet be proved to have even preceded the Bronze Age" (14), is the opinion of one group of authors (15).  The Iron Age began about -1800 with the end of the Middle Kingdom, is the opinion of another group, or in the time of Ramses II, according to a third group.  The developed Iron Age in Egypt began about -1200, or in the days of Ramses III, a few scholars maintain.  Many favor the date -1000 under the Libyan Dynasty (16).  "The early Iron Age of Egypt did not begin until -800 (between the XXII and XXV Dynasties)" (17).  The year -700 "may be considered as the beginning of the Iron Age in Egypt" (18), is a statement often made.  It is also asserted that the earliest smelting in Egypt (at Naucratis) dates from the sixth century.  All sides of opinion covering the entire length of Egyptian history have their advocates.  "Iron has had more contradictory statements made about it than any other metal" (19).

A criterion for the beginning of the Iron Age must be defined, and the problem must be divided into two parts: When did man become able to manufacture iron, and when did iron come into general use, cutting down considerably the use of copper and bronze?

The precedence of iron was postulated, not only because of the simpler technological process involved in manufacturing the metal, as compared with bronze, and the widespread presence of iron ore, but also because of the evidence provided by the work executed.  The stones for pyramids were cut in square blocks during the Old Kingdom-copper or bronze tools would not have cut the limestone rock.  Sarcophagi of granite with carved sharp corners of perfect angles and knife-like edges and plumb-straight lines, sculptures with finely cut lines of eyelids and lips dating from the Fourth Dynasty, and the sharp lines of hieroglyphics cut into granite and basalt, both very hard stones, and into diorite, the steely stone, hardest of them all, indicate that a medium as hard as steel was employed.  A modern sculptor would scoff at the idea that anything less than hard steel could even scratch these stones which blunt the steel chisel after a few strokes.

Actually various objects wrought of iron were discovered in the Egypt of the Old Kingdom, and even in pre-dynastic Egypt.  At Gerzah, some fifty miles south of Cairo, iron beads were found and identified as belonging to pre-dynastic times (20).  An iron chisel was found between the stones of the Great Pyramid of the Fourth Dynasty (21). A number of chisels and other tools dating from the Fifth Dynasty were found in Saqqara not far from Cairo (22).  Several pieces of a pickax from the Sixth Dynasty were unearthed at Abusir (23), and a heap of broken tools from the same period at Dahshur (24); a lump of iron dust, probably a wedge, was discovered at Abydos (25).

Most of these objects showed a nickel content, suggesting that they were made of meteoric iron.  The Great Pyramid and Abydos pieces contained "traces of nickel," but the analyses were not conclusive.  Meteoric iron does not require extraction from the ore (smelting).  If only meteoric iron was used, and no extraction from the ore was undertaken, the process of manufacturing cannot be regarded as complete and the Iron Age had not yet begun.  On the other hand, meteoric iron is more difficult to hammer into shape than iron from ore.  Some scholars stress that geologists have collected only a few hundred tons of meteoric iron, largely in the Western Hemisphere, and hence, as long as the source was scarce, the real Iron Age could not begin.  Others think that man, who has used metals for only five or six thousand years, had at his disposal at the time he learned to use metal the meteorites that had fallen during hundreds of millions of years.

However, one or two iron objects of the Sixth Dynasty are declared to contain no nickel and therefore to be not of meteoric origin.  This means that already in the Old Kingdom the process of smelting iron ore was known.  If the first successful attempt to smelt iron from the ore is to be regarded as the beginning of the Iron Age, then the Iron Age had already started at that early date.  But the question remains, Why did iron extracted from ore not come into general use, if the smelting process was known?  And generally, why did the Bronze Age come first and the Iron Age second?  Here we have learned that at least it was not because of lack of skill that iron was not utilized to a greater extent during the Old and Middle Kingdoms.


The historical parts -of the Scriptures, covering the period from the Exodus to the return from Exile, present Palestine in a simultaneous iron and bronze civilization.  Copper and bronze were used for many purposes for which they are not used today, but iron was a familiar metal and its manufacture was a familiar process.  Barzel (iron) and nechoshet (copper, bronze) are mentioned equally often in the Scriptures.


The Israelites, on arriving in Palestine after their wandering in the desert, found iron being used by the inhabitants of the land (the iron bed of Og, king of Bashan; the iron vessels of Jericho).  But as soon as the process of conquest was interrupted by the Philistine-Amalekite bloc, the Israelites were barred from the production of tools and had no access to the mining regions (1).  When in need of the work of a smith, the Israelites had to go down to the valley of the Philistines.  The Philistines used bronze for armor but iron for spearheads (2).  The Canaanites had iron chariots, the Israelites had none (3).

Because of these conditions objects of metal were scarce in the hills occupied by the Israelite tribes, and not many of them have been left for archaeologists to find.  In the Shefala (the coast) of the Philistines iron, left unprotected, rusts away in a few years, and only under especially favorable conditions would it be preserved for thousands of years.  Such favorable conditions prevailed in Gezer.

"A curious exception to the total absence of iron in the earlier Semitic periods must however be mentioned.  At the very bottom of the sloping part of the Water-passage were found two wedge-shaped lumps of iron, apparently parts of axe-blades or hoes.  How these had got down to their resting-place, which was sealed up some four or five hundred years before the use of iron became general, is not easily explained" (4).

As has been said before, the excavator of Gezer changed the ages of the Semitic periods of his former excavations by some five hundred years.  The iron blades of Gezer date most probably from the time of the Judges when Gezer was a Philistine-Amalekite city.

In the days when the Amu-Hyksos ruled Egypt from Auaris their policy with respect to metal manufacturing must have been similar to that employed in Palestine.  An example of an iron tool from Egypt corresponding to the iron blades of Gezer is a chisel found together with a ferrule of a hoe handle near Esnah; these pieces date from the Seventeenth Dynasty, at the end of the Hyksos domination (5).

In the last part of the eleventh century, when the Israelites under Saul and David achieved independence, they reentered the Iron and Bronze Ages.  David took in Damascus "exceeding much brass" (6).  Chariots and bows (II Samuel 1:18) became the new war equipment of the Israelites, when "the people of the bow" (7), i.e., the Amu or the Amalekites, lost their imperial position.  Swords and shields were made of bronze ("brass"), but agricultural implements, "harrows of iron" and "axes of iron," were made of the gray metal (8).

For the building of the house of worship David prepared "iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight."  Each of the metals had its proper use ("iron for things of iron, brass for things of brass").  The princes of Israel gave their share for the erection of the house: eighteen thousand talents of copper and bronze and one hundred thousand talents of iron, which proves that iron was of more common use than copper and bronze (9).  Changes on the political scene were accompanied by the acquisition of metal manufacture by the Israelites; with the end of the Amalekite domination the Israelites came into possession of sources of copper and iron in the Edomite region of the Araba and other places, and they learned artistic metal working from the Phoenicians and from their compatriots living in the vicinity of the Phoenician cities (10).

The Araba mining district, between the Dead Sea and the Aqaba Gulf, with Sela, or Petra, at its center, was under active exploitation in the days of David and Solomon.  It bore the name of the Valley of the Smiths, and the Kenites or Kenizzites living there were the smiths who supplied the arsenal of the allied Amalekites with weapons, before the latter's downfall and the conquest of the valley by David.  The district is rich in cupriferous minerals and iron ore (oxides).  In recent years it has been explored by N. Glueck (11).  Ruins of smelting furnaces are found scattered along the valley; copper and iron were processed in them in the days of Solomon.  Large iron nails actually have been unearthed and ascribed to the time of Solomon.

Solomon's harbor of Ezion-Geber on the Aqaba Gulf was an industrial community where furnaces equipped with the forced-draft system were employed in the "smelting and refining of copper and iron and the manufacturing of metal articles for home and foreign markets" (12).

In the days of Solomon silver was brought in large quantities in ships from afar, setting off another metal revolution, as we may read in the Scriptures and in the inscriptions of the viziers of Hatshepsut.  In Palestine and in Egypt alike new luxurious buildings were erected, and in some instances silver was used for floors (13).

The rapid acquisition of metallurgical skill by the Israelites was followed by a similarly rapid process in Egypt.  Thutmose III (Shishak) had twelve hundred chariots, which played an important part in the conquest of Palestine and Syria.  Prisoners from Rezenu (Palestine) were employed in metal workshops in Egypt, and the Egyptians learned the craft from them, as the pictures in the tomb of Rekhmire, the vizier of Thutmose III, show (14).  Copper was brought as tribute from Syria and Cyprus, and mining activity in the district of Sinai was resumed.  In the list of tribute from one of Thutmose III's campaigns in Syria vessels of iron (bia) are mentioned (15).

A list of the temple treasures of Qatna, drawn up some time before the conquest by Thutmose III, includes seven objects of iron, six of which were set in gold (16).  This does not mean that iron was particularly scarce.  Iron kept in temples was of meteoric origin.  The word bia means metal in general but more specifically iron or "the metal of heaven."  Meteorites were held in veneration in many sanctuaries: in the temple of Astarte at Tyre, in the temple of Amon in Thebes, in Delphi, in Mexican temples, and to the present day in Mecca (17).  Because of its origin the meteorite iron was set in gold and kept in the temple of Qatna, as it was in other places.

The various peoples in the lands around the Mediterranean had their preferences for one or the other metal.  In most cases the natural distribution of ore dictated whether the preference would be for copper or for iron.

In the ninth-century palace of Assurnasirpal and Shalmaneser III at Nimrud, in which Tiglath-Pileser also dwelt in the second half of the eighth century, spearheads, arrowheads, axes, and sickles of iron were found; "hoards of iron" were unearthed in Khorsabad and Nineveh.  The ore for this iron was mined in the Tiyari hills northeast of Nineveh and in the Chalybes region southeast of the Black Sea; in about -881 a rich load of iron was sent from the latter place to Assurnasirpil in Nineveh.  This region was within the dominion of the Chaldeans; we would therefore expect to find mention of iron already in the earlier portions of the Boghazkeui archives.  And in fact there is "a long list of mentions of iron in these documents, which reach down to the end of the Hittite Empire about -1200 . . . Here iron is the common metal, not the bronze to which one is accustomed in other lands of the Near East" (18).

The Phoenicians of the Syrian shore, because of their closeness to Cyprus with its rich copper mines, were not fond of ironwork, though iron, too, was occasionally worked there in small quantities.  It is no wonder that most of the metal found in Ras Shamra across the strait from Cyprus was bronze; yet rusted iron objects were found in Ras Shamra too (19).

One of the main arguments in support of the theory that the Mycennaean Age antedated that of the Homeric epics is based on the assumption that the Mycenaean tombs belong to the Bronze Age while the Iliad and Odyssey reflect an Iron Age.  The weapons of the Homeric heroes are of bronze, but iron is mentioned forty-four times in the epics, and although, from some references, it had been concluded that iron was rare in those times (20), the Iron Age had already superseded the Bronze Age, and steel manufacture was already known.

In the Mycenaean tombs bronze is abundant, but iron is not absent (21).

As in the days of Solomon, so in the time of Homer (presumably the eighth century), Sidon was "abounding with bronze," and if the Mycenaean graves belonged to the Carians who migrated from Ugarit or to Argive princes who were supplied with armor by the Phoenician traders, it would not be surprising to find that bronze is abundant in the tombs and iron rare.

The copper-mining region of Cyprus, Temessa, was exporting copper not only to Egypt but to the Aegaean region too, and ships sailing to Cyprus to take on copper sometimes brought iron there (22).

Because of this distribution of deposits, with large centers of copper in Cyprus and in Sinai and the poor iron ore of Egypt, bronze was the chief metal of Phoenicia and Egypt, but iron was more in use in and around Assyria and Chaldea.

A correspondent of the el-Amarna period, Tushratta of Mitanni, wrote to his son-in-law Amenhotep III that he was sending him a sacred knife (mittu) of iron and iron rings covered with gold.  To Akhnaton he also sent iron rings covered with gold and a dagger, the blade of which was of iron and the handle of gold set with precious stones (23).  The fact that an iron dagger has a handle of gold or bronze does not necessarily mean that iron was rarer than gold or bronze.  Following such reasoning, a future archaeologist, finding a table set of knives with silver handles, might think that silver was less precious in our day than steel.

Iron rings were sometimes covered with gold for the purpose of saving the gold, as is also done in our day when gold is laid over a less precious metal.  In Megiddo iron tools were found beside an iron foundry; iron rings covered with gold were uncovered there too (24).

In the tomb of Tutankhamen copper is more abundant than bronze, though the Copper Age ended before the Middle Kingdom.  A steel dagger set in a gold handle was found there together with a few small objects of iron (25).  At this time the. process of controlling the carbon content of iron was perfected, at least in the north, so that a dagger blade of tempered steel was sharper than one of bronze, and could also compare favorably in flexibility and durability.  In all ages the secret of tempering steel brought fame first to one place, then to another--in later times Damascus and Castilian blades were superior to the products of other localities.

When the Ethiopians superseded the Libyans in Egypt a new source of iron was opened up to this country in the south (26).  Slag from iron ore, found in heaps in Meroe in Nubia is ascribed to this period, which is often regarded as the beginning of the real Iron Age in Egypt.  Tools and small iron foundries were discovered in Egypt of the Ethiopian Dynasty.  The Assyrian conquest of Egypt was carried on with iron arms, and Assyrian tools made of iron were found in Egypt (27).  Iron is not among the booty that Assurbanipal took in Egypt in about -663, but the same king enumerated spoils of iron taken in Syria (28).  The general impression is that nations which used iron, especially for armor, were able to subdue nations that employed bronze.  The Assyrian conquest of Phoenician cities, the Ethiopian conquest of Egypt, the long contest between Assyria and Ethiopia over Egypt are examples.

With the beginning of the Nineteenth, i.e., the Twenty-sixth, Dynasty, the Ethiopian source of iron in Egypt was eliminated.  Greeks of Daphnae, and later of Naucratis in Egypt, reduced iron ore to ingots, from which they manufactured tools.  Iron tools were confined mainly to Greek settlements, a situation very characteristic of Egypt (29).  Not even from later times--of the Persians, Ptolemies, or Romans--has there remained so much iron in Egypt as from these Greek settlements of the Saitic period (30).  But as the hematite of Egypt is of poor quality, domestic iron could best be employed for objects that did not require fine material: fences, buckles, chains, and the like.  Ramses II imported iron of a better grade from the north.

A letter in the Boghazkeui archives, probably written by Hattusilis (Nebuchadnezzar) to Ramses II, reads:

"What concerns the pure iron, about which thou hast written to me, there is no pure iron in Kiswadna in my storehouse which is closed.  The time was unfavorable to make iron.  But I ordered in writing to prepare iron" (31 ).

Thus Hattusilis and Ramses II lived in a fully developed Iron Age.  The reason an order was placed for iron from the north at a time when iron was smelted by the Greek mercenaries in Egypt was because of the difference in the qualities of the metal smelted in Egypt and in the north.

Jeremiah at the same time asked (15:12): "Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?"

In that epoch iron was brought even from the western Mediterranean: Tharshish traded with Tyre in silver, iron, tin, and lead (Ezekiel 27:12).  "Bright iron" was also brought from Java (Ionia) (32).

Iron and bronze enriched the language with metaphors: "I have made thee ... an iron pillar, and brazen walls" (Jeremiah 1:18); and Ezekiel (4:3) symbolically built "a wall of iron."  "I am your wall of iron," Ramses II said of himself (38).

It is also acknowledged that "by the time of the XIX Dynasty (c. 1300-1200 B.C.) iron had become the regular metal at Gerar in south Palestine, of which were manufactured knives, dagger-knives, spearheads, lance-heads, chisels, borers, hooks and sickles" (34).  Actually the Nineteenth Dynasty ruled in the seventh-sixth centuries.

Because the Egyptians had at their disposal the deposits of Sinai, and the Phoenicians the deposits of Cyprus, they were skilled in the manufacture of copper and bronze articles (35).  This remained true for Egypt until the days of the Moslem conquest (36), and although the mines of Sinai have long since ceased operation, fondness for copper utensils is apparent in Egypt even today.

Gold, silver, and electrum (a mixture of gold and silver) are noble metals, not corrodible, and Egyptians who knew the corrodible quality of iron would not have included objects made of it among the funeral furniture and utensils of the dead, especially a noble person, still less a pharaoh: the purpose of mummification was to prolong the sepulchral life of the deceased.  As the tombs built for the nobles are among the main sources of archaeological finds of metals in Egypt, the rare occurrence of iron smelted from ore can be explained to some extent by its deliberate omission in the choice of objects for the funeral chambers.

Besides a natural fondness for shiny copper and bronze in preference to iron, a religious tabu may have played a role in the slow progress of iron.  A tabu against using iron for certain purposes is known to have existed in Palestine--the stones of the Israelite altar must have been shaped without the use of iron (37); a similar tabu was observed in Greek and Roman cults (38), it was and still is widespread (39).  In Egypt iron was called "bones of Seth," and played a role in religious beliefs and superstitions.  Tiny symbolic instruments, which served for "opening the mouth" of the deceased and which were made of bia, the heavenly metal, the iron that fell from the sky, were placed in tombs.  They are mentioned in the Egyptian Psalms for the Dead but are not often found (40).

Religious beliefs, the natural distribution of iron and copper, the quality of iron ore, the nature of the soil under cultivation--muddy (in Egypt) or stony (in Assyria and Palestine)--were the chief factors in the competition between iron and copper.

It would be wrong to date medieval Cairo earlier than Nimrud, Nineveh, or Khorsabad of the ninth-seventh centuries before this era merely because in these places iron was found in greater quantities than in Egypt in any age.

When the Ethiopians or Assyrians invaded Egypt they brought iron with them; so did the Greek mercenaries.  The Greek settlements in Egypt show that the Greeks favored iron while the Egyptians favored bronze.  To fix chronology by weighing the iron and bronze found is an erroneous procedure.  What matters is that during the entire period under discussion in this book Egypt, like other countries, knew and used iron; it is referred to in the sources and it is found in the excavations.  Equally important is the fact that, in its relations with foreign countries, be it tribute from Syria to Thutmose III or a load of iron ordered by Ramses II, the New Kingdom of Egypt was in the middle of the Iron Age of the Near and Middle East.  On the other hand, the Scriptures and the classic authors from Homer on down demonstrate by scores of references that iron did not displace bronze in many uses, especially in armor, until near the close of the period we call the Hellenic Age of ancient history.  In Egypt the "progress was much the same though rather slower," and "the change was not accomplished till Roman times" (41).

It can be said in conclusion that the partition of historical periods into ages of bronze and iron, with divisions of each of these ages into Early, Middle, and Late, with subdivisions of each of them into I, II, and III, and with a further differentiation of each of them into a and b may be defended as a method of describing the succession of ages for a particular country, but it cannot bring clarity to comparative archaeology since iron did not progress at the same pace in all countries of the Mediterranean basin.  Conventional history did not claim such simultaneity, but conventional chronology enmeshed itself in many conflicting statements by employing metal ages and their subdivisions for synchronizing historical periods in the countries of the ancient world.



(1)      Christian Thomsen.  Cf.  Hesiod, Works and Days.

(2)      A. Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, p. 193.

(3)       Lucretius differed on this point.  He wrote: "The use of bronze was known before iron, because it is more easily worked and there is greater store.  With bronze men tilled the soil of the earth, with bronze they stirred up the waves of war .... Then by small degrees the sword of iron gained ground . . . then with iron they began to break the soil of the earth," De Rerum Natura (trans.  W. H. D. Rouse; London. 1924),128lff.

(4)       W. F. Hume, The Distribution of Iron Ores in Egypt (Cairo, 1909).  See also his Geology of Egypt (1925-37), 2 vols.

(5)      Hill, A History of Cyprus, 1, 82.

(6)       In recent years it has been conjectured that alluvial fragments of tin were brought down by winter streams from the Syrian hills to the neighborhood of Byblos and were gathered in the dry beds during the summer.

(7)    Isaiah 1:25.  Compare Numbers 31:22.

(8)    Iliad, XI, 25, 34; XVIII, 474, 565; XX, 271, etc.

(9)     Herodotus, III, 115.

(10)     Quoted by Strabo.

(11)     Pliny, III, 2, 9; Diodorus, V, 2.

(12)     Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials, p. 211.

(13)      H. Garland and C. O. Bannister, Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy (London, 1927), pp. 85-86.

(14)                Ibid., p. 5.

(15)      This view already had its proponents in the last century.  Cf.  St. John V. Day The Prehistoric Use of Iron and Steel (London, 1877).

(16)      Cf. H. C. Richardson, "Iron, Prehistoric and Ancient," American Journal of Archaeology XXXVIII (1934), 555.

(17)       R. A. Smith, "Archaeology, Iron Age," Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th ed.), 11, 252.

(18)      Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials, p. 406.

(19)      Sir W. M. Flinders Petrie, "The Metals in Egypt," Ancient Egypt, II (1915), 18.

(20)      G. A. Wainwright, "The Coming of Iron," Antiquity, X (1936), 7.

(21)      R. W. H. Vyse, Operations Carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837 (London, 1840-42), I, 275-76.

(22)      Olshausen, Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie, 1907, p.373.

(23)       Found by G. Maspero in 1882.

(24)       See Olshausen, Zeitschtift fur Ethnologie 1907, p. 374.

(25)      Sir W. M. Flinders Petrie, Abydos, II (Egyptian Exploration Fund, Memoirs, Vol. 24; London, 1903), 33.


[1]   I Samuel 13:19.

[2]   I Samuel 17:5-7

[3]   Joshua 17:16-18; Judges 1:19.

[4]     Macalister, The Excavation of Gezer        (1902-09), II, 269.

[5]     Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 8.

[6]      II Samuel 8:8.

[7]      Gardiner, Admonitions, 2:2.

[8]      II Samuel 12:31.

[9]      1 Chronicles 22:3; 22:14; 29:2; 29:7.

[10]     II Chronicles 2:7.

[11]     N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan (New Haven, 1940), pp.  SI ff.

[12]     Ibid., p. 94.

[13]     See Ages in Chaos I, 123.

[14]     N. De Garis Davies, The Tomb of Rekh-mi-re at Thebes 43), Vols. I and II.

[15]     Breasted, Records Vol. II, Sec. 537.

[16]     C. Virolleaud, Syria, Revue d'art oriental et d'archeologie, IX 1928), 92, Qatna (el-Mishrife) was excavated by Du Mesnil du Buisson.

[17]      Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 6.

[18]      Ibid., 14.

[19]      Schaeffer, Syria, Revue d'art oriental et d'archeologie, X (1929), 292.

[20]      Iliad, XXIII, 826ff.

[21]      Also iron of Late Minoan I was found in Greece: Forsdyke in Annual of the British]School at Athens, XXVIII (1926-27), 296.

[22]     Odyssey, I, 182ff.  The copper mines of Cyprus, worked since the days of the Old Kingdom in Egypt and in the time of Homer, are still in operation.

[23]     Letters 22 and 25.

[24]     "One iron object, a ring, has been attributed to the Late Bronze II period.  It is not later in any event.  Four iron objects came from Early Iron I burial, a dagger blade, a ring overlaid with gold, a fragment of a knife blade, and a bracelet." Guy, Megiddo Tombs, p. 162.  On the iron foundry of Megiddo and on iron implements, see Schumacher, Tell el-Mutesellim, I, 130-32, and Watzinger, ed., Tell el-Mutesellim, II, 80-81.  The date of this foundry is "uncertain, but in any case is probably before 926 B.C." Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936). 20.

[25]      Carter and Mace, The Tomb of Tutankh-Amen, Vol.  II, Plates 77B, 82A, 87B; ibid., Vol.  III, Plate 27.

[26]      Petrie, Ancient Egypt, II (1915), 22.

[27]      Ibid., p. 22; also Petrie, Six Temples at Thebes, 1896 (London, 1897), p. 18f.

[28]      "The absence of iron from the list is in noticeable contrast to the harvest that had been garnered by the Assyrians for two hundred years from the cities of Syria and Palestine." Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 22.

[29]      "Rather later iron tools are common in the Greek settlement of Naukratis, but they do not appear in purely Egyptian sites." Petrie, Ancient Egypt, II (I 915), 22.

[30]      Garland and Bannister, Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy p. 17.

[31]      B. Meissner, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, LXXII (1918), 61.

[32]      Ezekiel 27:19.

[33]      A. Erman-A.  M. Blackman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1927), p. 268.  Cf. A. Alt, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, LXXXVI (1933), 40.

[34]      Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 19.

[35]       T. A. Rickard, Man and Metals (New York, 1932), I, 240.

[36]      "Copper and bronze were used in Egypt for arrow tips up to Arab times." Garland and Bannister,                      fsAncient Egyptian Metallurgy, p. 104.

[37]      Deuteronomy 27:5.

[38]      See literature in H. B. Walters, Catalogue of the Bronzes, Greek, Roman and Etruscan, in the British Museum (London, 1899) ...

[39]       J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough (1911-35), I, 172.

[40]       Wainwright, Antiquity, X (I 936), 11.

[41]       Ibid., X (1936), 21.

PENSEE Journal V

 home       features       science/philosophy       wholesale store        policies        contact
Mikamar Publishing, 16871 SE 80th Pl,  Portland  OR  97267       503-974-9665