Man at War- Bronze and Iron


In about 3500 BC, in the Middle East, it was discovered a type of rock that became very hot turned to liquid. When the liquid was cooled it could be set hard again.

Copper was the first metal used. It was too soft to make good weapons.


It was discovered that if a little tin was mixed with copper, it made a new metal- bronze. Bronze was much harder.

Over time, metal smiths learned how to make furnaces. In the furnaces they could mix metals and fashions molds of clay and stone.

The hot liquid metal was poured into the molds and left to cool and set hard. The mold was opened and the metal shape carefully turned out and polished.

Bronze was in use in Egypt and South West Asia by 3500 BC. It reached Britain about 1500 BC.

Swords of Copper and Bronze

Ancient flint workers were skilled, they could not make swords. The trouble was the long, thin pieces of flint broke easily.

When metal smiths learned how to make bronze they were able to cast long blades. For the first time warriors had long, powerful swords.

Weapons made of copper or bronze were better and stronger than weapons made from flint. Both copper and bronze were soft metals. If used, often they became blunt.


Over time, metal workers discovered the secret of working with a new metal, iron. At first the secret of working of iron was known only to the Hittites. The Hittites were an ancient group of people living in what is now Turkey.

Gradually other races learned the secret of knowledge of iron. It became widespread by 1200 BC. The use of iron reached Britain by the fifth century BC.

Iron was a difficult metal to work with. It needed higher temperatures to melt it. It was worth it. It was much tougher, harder and kept a sharp longer.

Often the early swords had blades of iron and hilts of bronze. Although iron was used for weapons, bronze was still used for the manufacture of arrow heads and armor. Bronze was an easy metal to work and shape.