How did we get to make bronze?

We talk about the Bronze Age from elementary school, as well as in documentaries, and we know that it refers to a very particular historical period of our past. But basically, what did bronze and our ancestors use it for?

Bronze, a metallic alloy which allowed the development of weapons.

Bronze is an alloy, in other words, a mixture of two metals, which are copper and tin respectively. Bronze contains approximately 90% copper to 10% tin.

The progress of men in building ovens as early as the 5th millennium BCE has allowed them to melt copper and tin to obtain bronze, a metal alloy very useful for the development of weapons.

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An alloy

It is a metallic product obtained by mixing elements with a molten metal.

It is therefore in bronze that the fine swords, triangular daggers, spear points, axes, but also pins, and other jewelry found in the graves are cast.

Where did the raw materials come from?

In Europe, there were already many copper mines located in the Carpathians, a mountain range located in central Europe. However, copper mines also exist in France, which has reduced the purchase cost.

Raw copper

Raw tin

Tin is imported from Central Asia to Anatolia, in Turkey it came to us by river transport. But it was also produced in France, in Armorica, and in England in Cornwall. Certain tin roads crossed Belgium, which explains why we found many objects in Bronze at our place, as you will see it at the Prehisto Han.

So it’s funny to see that bronze is developing in Europe in a region devoid of natural deposits.

How could we extract metal from rocks?

Metals such as copper and tin are assimilated to rock. To recover them, the rocks had to be exploded in small ovens to collect the molten metal. On the spot, our ancestors made small ingots easier to transport, or small objects.

How did they understand that they had to mix the two metals hot?

Some historians argue that the alloy was produced by accident. Copper was already used at the time of our ancestors, notably for making jewelry. However, in some areas of Europe, the sand contains tin in small quantities, as in Spain. It could be that the fortuitous presence of this sand accidentally led to the formation of the alloy, without knowing that the result would give interesting properties for the construction of weapons.

The use of bronze from yesterday to today?

If it was used to make weapons for our ancestors more than 5,000 years ago, bronze was also used in the manufacture of watches. Not for its beauty, but for its stability over time and the fact that it does not deform with temperature.

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