Following the Bronze Age, the Iron Age was the period in which iron and steel were developed for tools, weapons and other objects. Iron—a pure element found in rocks called “iron ore”—was more difficult to extract than the copper and tin used for the earlier bronze. However, once smelted, iron was easier and cheaper to manipulate. And, while cast iron was not as durable as cast bronze, a crude iron object was often “good enough” considering iron’s cost savings. Like bronze, iron sometimes was cast in molds. However, iron could also be hand-hammered (forged), creating a whole new industry of blacksmithing.
The dates of the Iron Age are not as precise as those of the Bronze Age; it seems that various parts of the world experienced the Iron Age at slightly different times. In Europe, the period lasted from roughly 1200 BC to 400 AD. However, certain, very rare items of iron have been found from much earlier periods. Nine little, carefully-hammered iron beads have been excavated in Northern Egypt (circa 3200 BC).
During the period of the Iron Age, Sanskrit and Chinese literature flourished and the earliest books of the Hebrew Bible were written.
Some 700 years after the Iron Age, the Arts & Crafts andirons, pictured above, were hand-wrought in the same age-old method.
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