Bronze Age Warriors
Bronze Age Warriors
The European Bronze Age took place during the third and second millennia BC. This same period witnessed the first civilizations and empires in Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley—the first cities, the first states, the first writing systems, and many other innovations. Europe unquestionably felt the impact of these changes. Partially in response to these developments, and 1,000 years before the classical civilizations of Greece, 2,000 years before Rome, the Aegean area witnessed the emergence of more complex societies on Crete and the Greek mainland. The Minoan palaces and Mykenean (also known as Mycenaean) citadels were urban centers of these civilizations and the focal points of industry, commerce, religion, military power, and central accumulation. North of the Alps, there was much less political integration; societies operated on a smaller scale. This pattern continued essentially until the Roman conquest of France and much of Britain, shortly before the Common Era. More details on the developments in southern and northern Europe are provided in subsequent sections of this chapter. Bronze defines this period and becomes the dominant metal in Europe. As noted earlier, it has several advantages over copper. Because it holds an edge much better, most of the early bronze objects were weapons: swords, daggers, spearheads, and arrowheads, in the context of continuing warfare. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin or arsenic. Initially it was made from copper and arsenic to form arsenic bronze. Some copper ores naturally contain a good bit of arsenic, and smelting these ores may have accidentally created an early form of bronze. Copper ores are available and fairly widespread in Europe from Ireland to Bulgaria. Sources are concentrated in mountainous regions and more often found in the Alps and to the south and east. Some of these copper sources were incredibly productive. The Mitterberg mines near Salzburg in Austria, with tunnels up to 100 m (330 m) in length, may have produced as much as 18,000 tons of copper. Bronze production in Europe began in the Aegean region with the rise of early civilizations on Crete and mainland Greece.
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