What age preceded the Iron Age

Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age: Human Development Phases

Why is the prehistory and early history divided into Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages?

These are the materials that humans have learned to work or manufacture in the course of early history. This reflects the ongoing biological evolution, in particular the further development and differentiation of the human brain. Humans were increasingly able to perfect their work and hunting techniques, which were vital for them. At first he worked stone, wood and bones, then he got to know the advantages of metal - bronze and iron - as a tool and weapon. Therefore, the prehistory and early history are also divided into the three periods Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The time transitions between the Stone Age and the Metal Age differ from region to region. The Middle East was always a few steps ahead of Europe. Unless otherwise stated, the data given below applies to Central Europe.

How and when did the Neanderthals live?

The Neanderthals lived in the Paleolithic (Palaeolithic). Geographically, this corresponds to the Ice Age and covers the entire history of mankind from around 2.5 million years ago to around 10,000 years ago. The Neanderthals were the first to adapt to the cool climate. Protected from the cold, he lived in caves. His diet consisted mainly of meat; In the warmer periods in between, herbal products such as berries were added. While the Neanderthals were content with hand axes, scrapers and simple knives, the Homo sapiens sapiens already made harpoons and needles. He used a bow and arrow for hunting. The wolf was his companion on his forays; man made him his first pet around 20,000 years ago. Jewelry is now also much more common. Cave paintings and carvings are evidence of great craftsmanship. The spread of mussel shells from the Mediterranean suggests a lively barter trade.

What is the "Neolithic Revolution"?

This term describes the transition from nomadic life to sedentary life with agriculture and cattle breeding. With the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, living conditions changed. The forested areas in Europe increased, the animal world changed. In the Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic), people continued to live as hunters and gatherers, but fishing gained increasing importance. The first dwellings made of reed and wood have also been identified. The beginning of sedentarism triggered further changes in the way of life. The dead were buried more elaborately, as shown by the 8,000–9,000 year old barrows in northern Germany. The stone tools are becoming more filigree, which is proven by the high proportion of blades or arrowheads in the archaeological finds. The most important development step, however, was the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry - that is, the transition from the appropriating (hunting and gathering) to the productive economy and way of life: the "Neolithic Revolution".

How was the development outside of Europe?

The Neolithic Age began in our latitudes about 7,500 years ago. However, the beginnings of the rural way of life in the Middle East go back significantly further. In the so-called Fertile Crescent, a region that stretches from the Persian Gulf to what is now Israel, people began farming and raising livestock around 11,000 years ago - possibly at the same time in what is now China. At first they limited themselves to sowing and harvesting the wild cereals they found, einkorn, emmer and barley. Over time, it was possible to breed higher-yielding types of grain. The plow, which found its way from Mesopotamia to Europe, also made tillage easier. Sheep and goats were domesticated, later also cattle and pigs. New handicraft and cultural techniques such as the production of ceramics, the irrigation of fields and metal processing made division of labor and specialization necessary, which gave rise to a society with hierarchies and social differences. Extensive trade relations resulted in an exchange of ideas, which in turn accelerated technical progress. The cities of which Jericho in Palestine is probably the oldest - 10,000 years ago it had around 1,500 inhabitants turned out to be the engines of development.

What did the beginning of the metal age mean for humans?

The mining of metal ores, their smelting and further processing represented an epochal step, because agricultural implements, tools and weapons made of metal were far superior to those made of stone or wood. With the development of new skills and working methods, people not only expanded their knowledge and organizational skills, they also acquired economic wealth and social power at the same time.

Was there a copper age?

Already about 8000 years ago copper was melted and processed in Çatal Hüyük (today's Turkey). Since the processing of copper preceded that of bronze, it is also referred to as the Copper Age or the Neolithic that processed copper. However, these designations are imprecise, as copper was unknown in many cultures or did not have the same prominent importance as bronze and iron later.

What were the cup cultures?

The cultures that mark the end of the (copper-processing) Neolithic, especially in north-eastern Europe, are called the ceramic cup cultures (formerly battle ax cultures) because of their most important common feature. From today's Netherlands and western Switzerland via Germany and southern Scandinavia to Poland and Russia - with recognizable regional characteristics - common cultural features were discovered: cup-like ceramic vessels with string-shaped decorations and battle axes as grave goods as well as a clear trend towards individual burials - signs of a stronger emphasis on the individual . The time of the corded ceramic cup cultures began about 4500 years ago and ended with the beginning of the Bronze Age.

In which period is the Bronze Age settled?

In Europe, the Bronze Age began around 4000 years ago and ended around 3200 years ago (in Greece) to 2700 years ago (in Central Europe). Early centers were the ore mining regions in central Germany, Bohemia and Lower Austria (Aunjetitz culture) and in the south-west of England (Wessex culture). Mycenaean Greece was important. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was first detected in Thailand 6500 years ago. This metal was used in the Middle East around 4500 years ago.

In the Bronze Age there were already means of transport such as horse-drawn carts and ocean-going ships. Bronze devices were an important commodity. Amber from the north served as a medium of exchange all the way down to Greece. It was changes in the burial culture to which the Middle and later Bronze Age of Central Europe owes its names: tumulus culture and urn field culture.

When did the first iron objects appear?

The oldest known iron objects are about 6000 years old pearls from Egypt. Iron was first used by the Hittites in Anatolia. Iron had the advantage over bronze that it was more readily available. However, it has not yet been possible to generate sufficiently high temperatures (over 1500 ° C) to completely liquefy iron. Softly melted pieces of iron therefore had to be hammered into the desired shape. Iron was mainly used for weapons, heavy tools, and agricultural implements. Cauldrons and personal items continued to be made of bronze, gold and silver were used to make jewelry.

The Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron Age around 2,700 years ago. The early Iron Age roughly coincides with the Hallstatt Age, which is named after a second important branch of the economy, salt mining - based on Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut (Austria).

Does prehistory end with the Iron Age?

That can only be said for the area north of the Alps. The Iron Age ended there - and with it the prehistory - with the expansion of the Roman Empire about 2000 years ago. With the beginning of historical time, social events such as political or religious upheavals come to the fore from now on. People leave behind written evidence of their actions, so that from now on the epochs of human history no longer have to be based on raw materials or everyday objects.

When does the person appear?

The development of man falls into the period of the Ice Age (Pleistocene), the beginning of which is set about 2.5 million years ago. This epoch is characterized by an alternation between cold and warm periods, which not only causes geological changes, but also a rapid change in living conditions. There are different details about the exact dating of the various cold and warm periods. There is agreement that there were four glaciers in the last 900,000 or so years and that the last ended about 10,000 years ago.

Did you know that …

the cradle of mankind according to today's knowledge is in East Africa? The oldest known human bones were discovered there.

the Neanderthals buried his dead and even placed grave goods with them?

the Lascaux cave with its famous stone age paintings was discovered by young people by chance in 1940?

Why is »Ötzi« so interesting for science?

The researchers can draw conclusions about everyday life in the Stone Age from the mummy of the 45 year old and 1.60 m tall man from the Neolithic Age, named "Ötzi" after its place of discovery in the Ötztal Alps. "Ötzi" died 5100 to 5350 years ago and was preserved in the ice. "Ötzi" is particularly interesting for science because he died of an accident or - as has recently been assumed - an arrow and was not buried. The equipment and clothing found with him are therefore everyday objects, not selected grave goods. In addition to a grass coat, the man's clothing (cap, upper garment, loincloth, belt, two leg tubes and shoes) consisted of leather or fur from goat, calf, bear and deer. Among other things, he wore a quiver with arrows, an ax and a flint dagger and a vessel for carrying charcoal embers. Small tools were in a belt pouch. "Ötzi" has the oldest known tattoos.

Did you know that …

the wagon wheel was invented in Mesopotamia 5000 to 5500 years ago?

the Sumerians invented writing about 5000 years ago?

the Stonehenge cult complex in the English county of Wiltshire is considered the most important prehistoric building in Europe?