Site Section Links
The Third Story
The Nature of Time
Nature of Time video
The Nature of Space
The Neutrino Aether
Nature of Force Fields
Origin of Modern
Niagara Falls Issues
Climate Change Model
Climate Change Questions
Modern Mythology Material
1994 Velikovsky Symposium
Pensee Journals TOC
Selected Velikovskian Article
State of Religious Diversity
PDF Download Files
Open letter to science editors
Shortcomings of the metallurgical
approach to comparative archaeology
Metallurgy and Chronology
This paper, first set in type in the early 1950's, will appear as a supplement to
Ramses II and His Time.
I. BRONZE AND IRON
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"
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
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 1085°C.,
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
(1085°C.) 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"
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)"
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.
II. BRONZE AND IRON AFTER THE FALL OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM
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
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"
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
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"
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"
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"
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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"
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
(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,
(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
(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,
(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.
 I Samuel 13:19.
 I Samuel 17:5-7
 Joshua 17:16-18; Judges 1:19.
 Macalister, The Excavation of Gezer (1902-09), II, 269.
 Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 8.
 II Samuel 8:8.
 Gardiner, Admonitions, 2:2.
 II Samuel 12:31.
 1 Chronicles 22:3; 22:14; 29:2; 29:7.
 II Chronicles 2:7.
 N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan
(New Haven, 1940), pp. SI ff.
 Ibid., p. 94.
 See Ages in Chaos I, 123.
 N. De Garis Davies, The Tomb of Rekh-mi-re at
Thebes 43), Vols. I and II.
 Breasted, Records Vol. II, Sec. 537.
 C. Virolleaud, Syria, Revue d'art oriental et
d'archeologie, IX 1928), 92, Qatna (el-Mishrife) was excavated by Du Mesnil
 Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 6.
 Ibid., 14.
 Schaeffer, Syria, Revue d'art oriental et
d'archeologie, X (1929), 292.
 Iliad, XXIII, 826ff.
 Also iron of Late Minoan I was found in Greece: Forsdyke
in Annual of the British]School at Athens, XXVIII (1926-27),
 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.
 Letters 22 and 25.
 "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
 Carter and Mace, The Tomb of Tutankh-Amen, Vol.
II, Plates 77B, 82A, 87B; ibid., Vol. III, Plate 27.
 Petrie, Ancient Egypt, II (1915), 22.
 Ibid., p. 22; also Petrie, Six Temples at
Thebes, 1896 (London, 1897), p. 18f.
 "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.
 "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.
 Garland and Bannister, Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy
 B. Meissner, Zeitschrift der Deutschen
Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, LXXII (1918), 61.
 Ezekiel 27:19.
 A. Erman-A. M. Blackman, The Literature of the
Ancient Egyptians (London, 1927), p. 268. Cf. A. Alt, Zeitschrift
der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, LXXXVI
 Wainwright, Antiquity, X (1936), 19.
 T. A. Rickard, Man and Metals (New York, 1932), I,
 "Copper and bronze were used in Egypt for arrow tips up
to Arab times." Garland and Bannister,
fsAncient Egyptian Metallurgy,
 Deuteronomy 27:5.
 See literature in H. B. Walters, Catalogue of the
Bronzes, Greek, Roman and Etruscan, in the British Museum
(London, 1899) ...
 J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough (1911-35), I, 172.
 Wainwright, Antiquity, X (I 936), 11.
 Ibid., X (1936), 21.
PENSEE Journal V