How did people find metals

Bronze age

At a museum in Italy: Here you can see how bronze was made in the Bronze Age.

The Bronze Age got its name from the fact that people increasingly made their tools out of bronze instead of stone. The Bronze Age lasted in Central Europe from about 2200 to 800 years before Christ. Before it was the Stone Age, afterwards the Iron Age.

Bronze is not a pure metal, but a mixture of two metals, namely copper and tin. Such a mixture is called an alloy. Before that, people were already working with pure copper. It's hard to say today how they got the bronze. It used to be thought that they figured out the mix themselves. However, the scientists have also discovered certain ores: These contain copper and tin in the correct ratio, so that bronze is automatically created when melted out.

The oldest bronze objects were found in Egypt. They date from around 2700 BC. The bronze then spread through Cyprus and today's Turkey to Central Europe. So it did not appear here until about 500 years later. And here, too, the material and knowledge have slowly spread from one village to another. It was the same with the iron later. Therefore it depends on the country if you want to say from when to when the Bronze Age lasted.

How did people live?

Here someone dressed like a man in the Bronze Age and worked stone tools.

As in the Stone Age, people lived from agriculture and cattle breeding. They continued to grow various grains and bake bread from them. Millet was added, and it also grew on sandy soils. Millet was eaten as a porridge. For harvesting, people used bronze sickles. These are long, curved knives. With it they got ahead faster than with stone blades and could feed more people. They discovered the broad bean and invented the production of cheese from cow's milk. The horse was added to the domestic animals.

The people lived together in large families of 8-10 people on a farm. But villages with up to eight families were also found. The houses were made of wood. Occasionally there were some on a stone foundation. But everything was made of wood where the people lived. At the edge of the Alps, people sometimes built houses on stilts in the swamp or in the lake. They are called stilt houses. There were also villages with palisades. Presumably people wanted to protect themselves against wild animals or against other people.

Today we also know a lot about the religious life of the people in the Bronze Age. The gold hats found were probably not worn just like that, but served a religious cult. The Nebra Sky Disc became particularly famous. It shows the sun, moon and various stars. One could follow the course of the stars with it.

What work did people do?

The discovery of bronze created new work opportunities: the ore had to be dug out of the ground, copper and tin had to be melted out. Other workers mainly used it to make utensils out of bronze: knives, sickles, axes and much more. Jewelry and objects for religious rituals were also created. Some of these were very artfully designed.

In order to make bronze, however, people had to learn a lot more: Melting the ore and forging the work required a lot of charcoal, which had previously been made from beech wood. People built more and better wagons to move the ore and bronze ingots. But it also needed ships for the sea route and traders who sold the bronze. In return, they brought other valuable barter goods back to their homeland, because there was no money yet.

Some people apparently managed to get richer than others. This can be seen today from the graves found. Some people were buried just like that, others with their weapons or expensive jewelry. This was not only made of bronze, but also of gold or silver. These two precious metals were known from the Stone Age.

  • The Trondheim Sun Chariot is a well-known find from the Bronze Age.

  • This collar was made 3500 years ago. It was found in France.

  • The pile dwellings in Unteruhldingen on Lake Constance. People lived here in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

  • Bronze wheel from Stade, around 700 BC Chr.

  • This box was used to keep jewelry 4600 years ago.

  • Berlin gold hat, around 900 BC Chr.