Bronze versus Iron

The general replacement of bronze based technology with iron based technology around 1000 BC in Eurasia probably wasn’t primarily due to the superiority of smelted iron but due to iron’s general availability compared with the rarity of the tin and complex trade structure needed to smelt bronze.

The Disruption of Bronze by Renkat February 2 2011

 ‘In fact, many of the original iron swords were only marginally better than their bronze predecessors. What iron ultimately had going for it was availability. Iron ore was readily accessible in just about every region of the ancient world, and while the copper required in the production of bronze was also abundant, the simplicity in producing workable iron and the relative rarity of tin meant that iron swords could be produced on a much larger scale, and could therefore equip more impressive armies.’

Steel (which incorporates carbon into the smelting process) is significantly harder than bronze but it requires greater skills and knowledge to produce which didn’t develop until later (maybe around the third century BC).

Sword Making in A Brief History of Sword Making by Robert T. Gonzalez  August 17 2011

Sources of Tin

In modern times, the primary producers of tin are China, Indonesia and Peru.  Tin in Minerals Education Coalition.

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