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Iron Age

Iron Age is the period marked by the use of iron implements, tools, and weapons. Archeologists consider the Iron Age the period that immediately follows the Bronze Age. The Iron Age is the third era in archeologist Christian Anderson's three-age system. The advent of the Iron Age in Mesopotamia is dated around 1300 BC. As the use of iron spread to other parts of the world, the Iron Age started to dawn in other parts of the world. In India and Europe, for example, the start of the Iron Age is dated around 1200 BC while in parts of China it is believed to have started in 600 BC and in Japan as late as 100 BC.

Iron Age Civilizations:
The civilizations of the Near East were the earliest to reap the benefits of Iron Age. The development of Archaic Greece with the fall of the Bronze Age Mycenaean Civilization was an era of renewal in Greece. The Greek city-states, the polis were rebuilt and Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Halicarnassus were among the mightiest polis. Urbanization took on new dimensions with the construction of these cities. The Phoenician alphabet was adopted and the Mycenaean history was transformed into myths and legends for the generations to come.

In Iran Zoroastrianism took roots during the Iron Ages. Zarathustra preached the influential doctrine amidst much political chaos. In India Iron Age lasted from about 1200 BC till around 26 BC. The earliest kingdoms of the subcontinent, the Mahajanapadas were culturally advanced societies. Then developed the Maurya and the Satavahana Empires in northern and central India and the Chola and Pandya Empires in the south. A high sense of cultural refinement marked the era. Art, architecture and literature flourished.

In China the Chou Dynasty lost its power and might in the Iron Age. The smaller, fragmented kingdoms formed as a consequence entered an era of internal conflict and strife till the emergence of the mighty Ch'in Dynasty. The emperors of the Ch'in Dynasty took up territorial expansion and promotion of Chinese culture including philosophy and literature.

Iron and Metal Works:
The discovery of iron dates back to about 2000 BC. Iron artifacts dating back to the fifth millennium BC have been found in Iran by the archeologists. The earliest iron artifacts of Asia are those dating back to the third millennium BC. These were found in China. By the Middle Ages the use of wrought iron in manufacture of armors and armaments was a common practice. Its versatility and ease of procurement made iron a revolutionary metal. The easy availability of coal for the manufacture of iron and the strength of the metal itself made it very popular. By the time steel was manufactured, the use of iron was already a common feature of most world civilizations.

Iron Age Literature:
Language and literature saw a great deal of evolution in the Iron Age. The Bronze Age had seen the development of the earliest alphabets such as the Cuneiform and the Hieroglyphic scripts, the end of the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age saw texts such as the Vedas being written.

The Iron Age saw a spurt in the growth of Chinese and Indian literature. Vedic literature such as the Vedanta and Upanishads were written; the Hebrew Bible is also a product of this age. Language grew ore complex and poetry grew in clout. Historic records started to be maintained. Language reflected the growing complexity of the cultural dimensions of the Iron Age civilizations.