Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Bronze Age, 3000 - 1000 BC

Metallurgy was important to this age apart from the advantages (military and commercial) that it conferred upon civilization but also what it indicated. Knowledge was just one ingredient to a Bronze Age society. Organization, technical skills, and commercial rewards were necessary to implement and support industrial activity. Civilization itself had to rise to a new level.

During this period the major super-powers in the world were Egypt, Iraq, and China. (I use the general term "Iraq" for the succession of different empires that based their heartland in this area.)

China 's remoteness and protected it from the wars of the civilizations to the west. The Shang Dynasty may have ruled over 5 million people, which made the most populous empire in the world. It entered the Bronze Age by 1500.

Iraq established the first empire based on large scale conquest in the 24th. Century. It extended from the Persian Gulf in the south to the east coast of the Mediterranean in the west, and to the Caspian Sea in the north. It lasted about 2 centuries which isn't bad considering the primitive infrastructure and governance of the times. After 2000 the region became Babylon and became the hub of much inter-civ activity. It conquered and was conquered. The age ended with the Assyrian Empire in control.

This era was Egypt's golden age. The pyramids were mostly built by 2000. Egypt had its first large invasion in the 18th. Century. This changed the character of the state from an isolationist, inward looking society to a more standard warring and conquering empire.

India had a large first-rank civilization in the Indus River Valley until 1500. The Aryan invaders spent the rest of the age conquering the rest of India.

What is most significant about this age is that the historian emerges from almost total reliance upon artifacts, crockery, and excavations to written records. We go from just writing about physical things to writing about people and events.

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