Even Before the ‘Iron Age’, Ancient Cultures Crafted Iron Weapons and Tools

And they did so not using Iron from Earth, but Iron from outer space. The earliest such evidence dates back to around 5,000 B.C.

We have studied ancient civilizations and cultures for centuries.

The more we learn the more we find out how uninformed we were when it comes down to ancient civilizations and their achievements.

Recent research has shown that long before the start of the Iron Age, mankind already learned to develop intricate tools and weapons made of iron.

But this iron had no ordinary origin; experts say it came from outer space.

Earth has a lot of iron.

In fact, iron is the metal out of which most of the Earth’s core is made of.

It also happens to be the fourth most abundant element in the crust.

But using Iron for our own advantages and necessities has not been an easy task.

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Iron is packed in ore, and in order to use it, you need to smelt it and produce the metal.

Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

Iron before the Iron Age

The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration. It is defined by archaeological convention, and the mere presence of some cast or wrought iron is not sufficient to represent an Iron Age culture; rather, the “Iron Age” begins locally when the production of iron or steel has been brought to the point where iron tools and weapons superior to their bronze equivalents become widespread.

Looking at history, we find ample evidence of iron before the iron age. In the archaeological record, we see iron appearing in the early Bronze Age.

Evidence of that can be found in the tomb of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun who died in 132f BC, and who was buried not only with a headrest of iron, but a bracelet and dagger made of the metal as well.

So how did the ancient Egyptians obtain the iron? And were they the first?

The answer is that iron from Earth isn’t the only source of… iron. You can obtain iron by other means as well; enter meteorites.

Understanding History

Two Chinese early Chou bronze weapons with iron blades Upper: ko 34.11, lower: ch'i 34.10. Slightly reduced.
Two Chinese early Chou bronze weapons with iron blades Upper: ko 34.11, lower: ch’i 34.10. Slightly reduced.

It has long been debated whether or not people from the Early Bronze Age knew about meteorites and how to make use of them.

One expert, Albert Jambon, from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, revealed in a 2017 study that Europeans only began understanding meteorites sometime during the beginning of the 19th century. Before that period, meteorites were considered tales of witchcraft.

But long before the 19th century, and tales of witchcraft and whatnot, there was evidence of iron use, and it happened to be well-documented.

For example, there are ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that have been found that mention iron as coming from the sky. Furthermore, scholars believe that Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, and politician of the Spring and Autumn period, made the very first description of a meteorite falling to Earth.

In the west, for example, people didn’t really begin understanding or even taking into consideration meteors until around the 16th century.

Nonetheless, ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, and people spread across Anatolia understood it more than 3,500 years ago, with evidence of the earliest use of meteorite iron going back to around 5,000 BC.

In fact, evidence of the oldest records of meteors can be found in ancient texts recorded by the Hittite.

However, these texts were actually copied from much older records.

So far, there has been evidence of ancient cultures using meteorite iron from various historical periods.

Experts have identified that a dagger excavated from Alaca Höyük, Turkey dates back to around 2,500 B.C. and was crafted using meteorite iron.

Archeologists also recovered an ax and a pendant from modern-day Syria dating back to 1,400 BC and 2,300 BC.

The above picture axes originate from China’s Shang Dynasty and date back to around 1,400 B.C.

Furthermore, 5,000-year-old beads were discovered in Egypt. They are considered the earliest known iron artifacts are nine small beads securely dated to circa 3200 BC, from two burials in Gerzeh, northern Egypt.

Scientists have demonstrated that these beads were actually made in ancient times from meteoric iron.

They were shaped more than 5,000 years ago by carefully hammering the metal into thin sheets, which were later rolled into tubes.