Iron Age

The Iron Age is a named after the material used for tool manufacturing period of the prehistory and early history. In the simple structure of the three periodic table it is true according to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age as the third great period of early history. At that time people began to use iron for tools and weapons. Follow us on the Iron Age - depending on the culture - the ancient or prehistoric culture.

The insertion of written tradition defines the beginning of the early history. So the beginning of iron smelting and processing counts in some regions as the earliest times (eg, central and northern Europe) and in some on the early history ( the Mediterranean, the Middle East, China, India). For Central Europe the term Iron Age is only applied to prehistoric periods in north-western Europe is a distinction between the pre-Roman Iron Age ( as prehistoric period) and Roman Iron Age ( as a partial early historic period, synonymous with the usual in the German research term Roman empire ). For Scandinavia, a " Germanic Iron Age " postulated as the classic periodization for the classification of the local findings proved as unfit.

Asia Minor

In Asia Minor the iron smelting was known early on. The Hittites knew the processing of this metal at a time when it was still unknown in other regions of the world. With the end of the Hittite Empire (around 1200 BC) also ended the monopoly of the Empire to the smelting of iron, the BC has been there since the 17th century. After the 12th century BC, this technology spread in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. (see also iron smelting among the Germans )


In the Levant goes with the upheavals around 1200 BC (see " Sea Peoples " ), the Bronze Age to the Iron Age:

  • Iron Age I (1200-1000 BC) I A (1200-1150 BC)
  • I B (1150-1000 BC)
  • IIA (1000-925 BC)
  • II B ( 925-700 BC)
  • II C ( 700-586 BC)
  • Babylonian period ( 586-539 BC)
  • Persian period ( 539-332 BC)

The Babylonian and V.A. Persian period is also available with the Levante written sources and coinage no longer represent purely prehistoric era, the Iron Age ends no later than 332 BC with the conquest by Alexander the Great and the beginning of the Hellenistic period.


Greece earlier Iron Age is the period between the mid-11th century and the end of the 8th century BC It is regarded as a period of change and transition between the Mycenaean world of the Bronze Age and the world of the Greek city-states of the Archaic period. This time is due to the sparseness of the sources is also the term " Dark Ages ".

Central Europe

In Central Europe, the Iron Age begins in the 8th century BC It is divided into

  • Early or Early Iron Age ( 800-450 BC), the Hallstatt period
  • Late Pre-Roman Iron Age or Younger ( 450 BC - End of 1st century BC), and the La Tène

The definition of the subdivision of the pre-Roman Iron Age Hallstatt and La Tène period in in 1874 by the Swedish prehistorians Hans Hildebrand.

Some important archaeological sites are:

  • The early Celtic " princely seat " Hohenasperg
  • The early Celtic " princely seat " on the Heuneburg (Baden- Württemberg)
  • The early Celtic " princely seat " with the discovery of the Princess of Vix
  • Oppidum of Manching ( Bavaria )
  • Grave finds in Klein-Basel,
  • Grave mound in the Hard ( Switzerland, near Basel ),
  • Hallstatt in Upper Austria,
  • Neuchâtel La Tène suburb
  • The Glauberg and Dünsberg in Hesse
  • The Schnippenburg in the Osnabrück country
  • The Magdalenenberg in Villingen -Schwenningen

Northern Europe

In northern Europe, the sections of the Iron Age are named differently depending on the area and dated:


  • Pre-Roman Iron Age ( 500-1 BC)
  • Roman Iron Age ( Roman Empire ) ( 1-375 AD)
  • Germanic Iron Age ( 375-775 AD) Older Germanic Iron Age ( corresponds to the migration period )
  • Younger Germanic Iron Age


  • Early Iron Age (500 BC - 550 AD) Pre-Roman Iron Age ( 500-1 BC)
  • Roman Iron Age ( 1-400 AD)
  • Migration Period ( 400-550 AD)



Sub-Saharan Africa

In Africa, one comes up against limits of European-influenced three periodic table, because in Africa the Iron Age began without a previous copper or bronze age. The earliest evidence of iron smelting come from Taruga in Central Nigeria ( Nok culture ) and north of N'Djamena in Chad. There have been excavated several Verhüttungsöfen which dated to the first millennium BC falls ( 800-500 BC).

In all probability, the iron smelting is an indigenous invention. Earlier assumptions origin is from Meroe could be refuted by the datings Tarugas, because the latter are slightly older than Meroe. An influence of Carthage seems excluded because the Sahara was to cross at that time barely.