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Iron Age
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Iron Age

The Iron Age is the period in a civilisation's development at which time iron working was the most sophisticated form of metalworking achieved. Though well made bronze tools far surpass iron tools in hardness and utility, the abundance of iron ore sources made iron cheap and contributed greatly to its adoption as the most common metallurgical process. The Iron Age is part of the Three-age system for prehistoric societies.

Table of contents
1 Near East
2 British Isles
3 Central Europe
4 Northern Germany and Denmark
5 Asia

Near East

The Iron Age is believed to have begun with the discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatolia or the Caucasus in the late 2nd millennium BCE. From here it spread rapidly throughout the Near East as iron weapons replaced bronze weapons by the early 1st millennium BCE.

British Isles

In Britain, the Iron Age lasted from about the 5th century BC (although some believe it to have started significantly later, around 1st century BC) to the 4th century AD. Defensive structures dating from this time are often impressive (for example, the brochs in Scotland and the hill forts of southern England and Wales and also Wincobank in Sheffield, further to the North). This is possibly because of greater tension between better structured groups, although there are suggestions that in the latter phases of the Iron Age they existed simply to indicate wealth. Either way, during periods of Roman occupation the evidence suggests the defensive structures served their purpose well. Many were re-used by later cultures, such as the Picts, in the early Medieval period.



Tens of thousands of coins from the Iron Age have been found in Britain. Some, such as
gold staters, were imported from mainland Europe. A number of these were found in the Silsden Hoard in West Yorkshire in 1998. Others were minted locally. For example, a large hoard from the Corielvatu tribe was found in Leicestershire in 2002.

Central Europe

In Central Europe, the Iron Age is generally divided in the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture (HaC and D, 800-450 BC) and the late Iron Age La Tène culture (beginning in 450 BC). The Iron age ends with the Roman Conquest.

Northern Germany and Denmark

The Iron Age is divided into the pre-Roman Iron Age and the Roman Iron Age (Jastorf culture). This is followed by the Migration period.


Cast-iron artifacts are found in China that date as early as the Zhou dynasty of the 6th century BCE. An Iron Age culture of the Tibetan Plateau has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture described in early Tibetan writings.
see also: *list of archaeological sites

Three-age system: Stone Age | Bronze Age | Iron Age