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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Difference between Bronze and Iron...?

Can someone reconcile these statements for me?

1. From

"With the exception of steel, bronze is superior to iron in nearly every application."

2. From

[People switched from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age because] "no one would have wanted to use bronze tools if there had been iron ones around instead."

Maybe the second statement should refer to steel instead of (pure) iron. Did the Iron Age start with the use of pure iron, or did it start with steel? If it started with pure iron, then how was it an advantage over bronze? And if it started with steel, then shouldn't it be called the Steel Age instead of the Iron Age?

6 Answers

  • meg
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Tools are not made of the pure element iron, because it is simply too soft to be useful. As I understand it the Hittites developed a techniques for working iron that incorporated carbon and over came these difficulties, and so introduced the iron age. We think of carbon +iron as steel, in fact cast iron is an alloy of silicon and carbon with iron. Both remarks are imprecise, which is not surprising since metallurgy is complicated and for most of history was an art not a science. Certainly there are many uses for which bronze are more suitable than iron. or even steel including many household objects.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If bronze was so superior to "iron", then it would not have been replaced by it. The wealthy preferred iron over bronze which should be enough to realise that it was a better material. Iron was a sign of wealth when it first appeared.

    Most of the iron tools and weapons of the time would have been harder than pure iron because of the way they made things. Iron is soft in its pure form so pure iron was not used.

    As for the name Iron Age, it might be because the secret of steel was not yet known in europe when the name was chosen.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Nlo there was no steel in the iron age, just iron. I find the first statement quite strange. I am not a specialist but I think iron is harder especially in weapons. In the bronze article it says something about iron being preffered just because it was more available. Its the first time I hear this. Maybe the bronze article is a case of Wikipedia not being reliable?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Advantage of iron over bronze: Iron is more plentiful, therefore cheaper.

    Steel did exist, but it was very difficult to make and even harder to find (then, like now, people could find steel in meteors). It did not become a major item until the industrial revolution, when efficient methods of mass production became available.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper and is easier to smelt and work. Then someone found out how to make forges using charcoal or coal that would smelt iron ore, and it could be worked while still hot. Even today steel is worked before it is cool, as in sheets and wires and poured into molds to make other products.

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  • 1 decade ago


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