Age of Metals: characteristics, periods, art

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Within the division of periods of Prehistory, a Age of Metals corresponds to its last phase. In addition to being heir to all the transformations that took place in previous periods, she paved the way for emergence of the first civilizations of Antique.

It is a transition period and is named for the use of metals in the manufacture of weapons and other instruments used in daily life. It was during this period that the emergence of the first cities. Society at the end of Prehistory was organized in a complex way, with farmers, shepherds and the emergence of the artisan, who worked with metals. Weapons that had metals in their manufacture were the first weapons of war.

Read too: The daily life of prehistoric women

Main characteristics of the Age of Metals

The Age of Metals began around the year 6 thousand BC. Ç., right after the neolithic period, when groups that were nomadic became sedentary thanks to agriculture. The last phase of Prehistory was marked by the formation of the first urban agglomerations

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. Agricultural villages were transformed into cities by virtue of successful harvests and population growth.

Stone tools, so useful to hominids in early prehistoric periods, have been replaced by ones made of metal. Fire gained a new utility: melting and shaping metal. The first to be worked on was copper. Over time, other types of metals were used, such as bronze and iron. You metal instruments they were used as weapons of war and in daily work, such as hunting, fishing and in agricultural practice. The work became efficient.

Since Paleolithic, first period of Prehistory, that there was a division of labor among human groups. In the Age of Metals, the social organization has become complex. The use of metal required skilled work. The figure of the artisan appeared, responsible for extracting metal from nature and molding it into weapons, a plow, among others.

metal weapons intensified wars between human groups. Thus, the domination of one people over another, as well as the conquest of territories and cities, became constant among the civilizations of antiquity.

Metal Age Periods

  • Copper Age

O copper was the first metal found by hominids, consequently the first to be used in the manufacture of weapons and instruments. O copper it was cold hammered and, over time, fire was used in casting and shaping. In addition to making weapons, copper was used in the manufacture of canisters and pots to store surplus agricultural production. As agricultural production increased in the last periods of Prehistory, it was necessary to manufacture resistant objects to store what was harvested.

Ax made of copper. [1]
Ax made of copper. [1]
  • Bronze Age

In the search for the formation of resistant instruments, the metals found were mixed. O bronze is the result of mixing copper with the tin. This metal is more rigid and resistant than copper and allowed the making of instruments that would withstand time and guarantee security to groups at war with their enemies.

The rigidity of the bronze guaranteed durability to objects produced by hominids.
The rigidity of the bronze guaranteed durability to objects produced by hominids.
  • Iron Age

Iron was the last type of metal used by hominids during prehistory. Like other metals, the iron was used in the manufacture of tools and weapons of war. The difference is that the specificity of the technique required to manufacture the metal prevented its dissemination among prehistoric groups. To obtain iron, it was necessary to melt it, remove impurities and regulate the amount of carbon. Iron was only used after learning how to prepare it.

Object made with iron during the Age of Metals. [2]
Object made with iron during the Age of Metals. [2]

Art in the Age of Metals

THE metallurgy it promoted the last transformation of prehistory. The use of metals favored the making of more resistant and durable tools and weapons. Soldiers who went to war wore armor and swords made of metal. Casting was the main means of transforming the metal.

See too: Important aspects about art in prehistory

Vase made of iron. [3]
Vase made of iron. [3]

Summary on the Age of Metals

  • The Age of Metals was the last period of Prehistoric times and had as its main feature the use of metals in the manufacture of utensils, tools and weapons.

  • The metals used were: copper, bronze and iron.

  • With more powerful and resistant weapons, due to the use of metal in manufacturing, wars between tribes became constant.

  • Agricultural agglomerates turned into cities.

solved exercises

Question 1 - The characteristics of the Metal Age are:

A) hominids used polished stone and were nomads.

B) use of metals in the manufacture of weapons for war.

C) sedentarization of human groups.

D) hominids lived in caves.


Alternative B. Hominids used metals such as copper, bronze, and iron to make weaponry for war, such as spears, shields, and armor. As a result, conflicts between groups became frequent.

Question 2 - Tick ​​the alternative that correctly points out the metals used by hominids in the last period of prehistory.

A) Iron and manganese

B) Gold and silver

C) Copper and bronze

D) Silver and iron


Alternative C. The first metal used by hominids was copper. Over time, there was a search for other types of metal to meet the demand of the moment. Bronze was very useful in making tools and sturdy weapons.

Image credit

[1] National Archaeological Museum of Spain / commons

[2] Miljananrt4217 / commons

[3] dosseman / commons

By Carlos César Higa
History teacher

Source: Brazil School -
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