Before the Iron age came the Stone Age and Bronze Age. These milestones in human history cover different ancient civilizations as they learned about and developed the tools, techniques, and methods of working with other materials.

During the Stone Age, humans discovered how to use rocks and stones to create stone tools and weapons. They even learned how to carve the stone to make stone wheels that could be used for grinding grains and for other purposes like transportation.

As humans became more advanced and skilled in their abilities, along with the discovery of metals in the earth, it paved the way for the Bronze Age.

During this period, humans advanced their skills and knowledge by learning how to use bronze in different ways to make all sorts of bronze tools, cooking utensils, weapons, and more.

During the Bronze Age, it is believed that humans did encounter iron but, initially, overlooked it because it was not as durable as bronze. They probably viewed it as inferior because they did not yet understand the properties of iron or how to make it more durable.

The Iron Age was a period in human history that started between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C. depending on the region, and followed the Stone Age and Bronze Age.

During the Iron Age, people across much of Europe, Asia and parts of Africa began making tools and weapons from iron and steel.

For some societies, including Ancient Greece, the start of the Iron Age was accompanied by a period of cultural decline.

Iron Age is believed to have started during the 1st millennium A.D.

This was the period when manmade and used Iron tools. The discovery and use of iron improved man’s standard of living.

Iron tools were discovered about 3000 years ago. The first people to make and use iron tools in Africa were the people of Ethiopia and Egypt. Iron skills and knowledge were not uniform or the same in Africa.

Humans may have smelted iron sporadically throughout the Bronze Age, though they likely saw iron as an inferior metal. Iron tools and weapons weren’t as hard or durable as their bronze counterparts.

The use of iron became more widespread after people learned how to make steel, a much harder metal, by heating iron with carbon. The Hittites—who lived during the Bronze Age in what is now Turkey—may have been the first to make steel.

Famous iron Sites

The first important towns for iron smelting were:

1. Meroe in Sudan

2. Axum in Ethiopia

3. Nok area in West Africa.

<> In East Africa, it is believed that man started to use iron from the First millennium A.D e.g. Iron discovered earlier in





Western shores of Lake Victoria.

Iron tools included iron





Also, Iron technology helped early African societies to produce and use iron tools as well as to produce better weapons for defense.


When Was the Iron Age?

The Iron Age began around 1200 B.C. in the Mediterranean region and Near East with the collapse of several prominent Bronze Age civilizations, including the Mycenaean civilization in Greece and the Hittite Empire in Turkey.

Ancient cities including Troy and Gaza were destroyed, trade routes were lost and literacy declined throughout the region.

The cause for the collapse of these Bronze Age kingdoms remains unclear. Archaeological evidence suggests a succession of severe droughts in the eastern Mediterranean region over a 150-year period from 1250 to 1100 B.C. likely figured prominently in the collapse. Earthquakes, famine, sociopolitical unrest and invasion by nomadic tribes may also have played a role.


The discovery of iron tools in East Africa led to the following effects;

1. It led to increase in food production. Man could now clear his areas for cultivation.

2. Increase in population due to more food.

3. There was emergence of specialization i.e. Iron workers (black smiths) and food producers.

4. It led to the development of political organization such as kingdom and states.

5. Tools were highly improved and more efficient

6. It led to the improvement of security due to better weapons like arrows, spears and pangas.

7. It resulted to the development of trading activities due to surplus production



What Are the Most Notable Things that Happened During the Iron Age?

As different countries became more skilled at iron smithing, they started to gain an advantage over less-advanced countries. Many different empires began to rise during the Iron Age, with the development of more permanent cities and settlements.

Before the Iron Age, while different regions did have established cities, like Athens in Greece and Rome in Italy, other regions consisted of smaller tribes and nomads that migrated and moved around, never settling in one area.

When people did settle in one place, they started to build more sturdy buildings and homes. Iron doors and windows started to become more common since they were stronger and more durable and protective than wooden doors.

With the knowledge of steel also came the creation of new weapons. Arming themselves with these new weapons, it led people to engage in many large-scale conflicts and invasions.

For instance, the Roman Empire had its beginnings in 509 BC with the end of the monarchy and the formation of a republic. Rome was already well into the Iron Age, with almost 300 years of developing new methods, techniques, and skills working with iron and creating steel.

Eventually, this led to military conquests and the expansion of the early republic. Around 264 BC, Rome had begun a period of military conquests referred to as the Punic Wars.

Around the period from 149 BC to 146 BC, during the Third Punic War, Rome was also expanding eastward, resulting in the fall of Macedonia.

The Roman conquests helped fuel the growth of its empire and arts, culture, technological advances, and wealth. As Rome grew, so, too, did its skills and knowledge in other areas like Roman architecture, aqueducts, cement, arches, roads, and drainage.

Eventually, other regions, namely Western Europe and Northern Europe, acquired similar knowledge and skills working with iron and creating steel.

They, too, created iron weapons and used these to fight back against Rome’s expansion efforts. Conflicts and wars between empires continued throughout the Iron Age.

Another iron product that was discovered during the Iron Age was wrought iron. Wrought iron has a very low carbon content. Around 200 BC, wrought iron was initially invented in Asian countries. Eventually, the skills and knowledge required to smelt wrought iron spread to other regions.

The Writer