11/3 edit: My mother informs me that my grade on the project overall was around 90 because the execution of the project itself (a scale version of the parts of London burned in the fire done in styrofoam, which us finding bits of styrofoam all over the house for about two months afterwards with removable sections to see which parts of the city were burned over the four days of the fire) was well above average. It was, apparently, the research aspect of the project that was deemed lacking.
There is not a lot I don’t know about the siege of Troy.* But I came across this picture today and it made me laugh and I had to share. So to compensate and make it relevant, today we’re learning about the Bronze Age.
The Bronze Age lasted from about 3300 BC to about 400 BC, though not for that entire span throughout the world. The Europeans, Chinese and Koreans were the last to both enter (about 2300 BC) and leave (about 400 BC) the Bronze Age, while the Mesopotamians/Aegeans/other peoples of the Near East were the first, around 3300 BC and 1200 BC, respectively. The period is characterized by bronze being the highest weapon technology of the time. It was preceded by the Neolithic (New Stone) Age and followed by the Iron Age. Apparently, the Near Eastern Bronze Age is divided into ten time periods, three in the Early Bronze Age, four in the Middle Bronze Age and three in the Late Bronze Age.**
It is not likely a coincidence that the beginnings of metal smelting and alloys in the Early Bronze Age coincide with the emergence of urbanization. I don’t know enough about ancient culture to state that for sure, but I would be shocked to find out that these two things are unrelated. In addition to the emergence of a settled culture, trade routes*** began to flourish during the Bronze Age.**** Most, but not all, of the cultures that had a Bronze Age (some, because of the way the trade routes progressed, skipped straight from the Neolithic to the Iron Age) were highly successful societies that experienced a surge in the arts and sciences.
The Trojan War is said to have taken place at the very end of the Bronze Age. The popular dates are from about 1194 – 1184 BC. The overall kingdoms of the Bronze Age can be found on this page, which gives a fantastic breakdown.*****
*Which should be evident from the number of times Homer’s The Iliad has been mentioned on this blog. Also, I wrote a ridiculously over-researched paper on the Trojan War in high school.
Autobiographical note: I am an excellent researcher. I over research. And with the exception of a grade 10 European History paper on the Great Fire of London, on which I apparently got a mediocre grade for being under-researched (a grade that I found out about a dozen years later had infuriated my mother so much she went and argued the grade with my teacher), I have always over-researched. This is not bragging, it is a statement of fact. I love doing research. I enjoy the discovery aspect of it.
**I find it wildly entertaining that the beginning of the Bronze Age coincides with Mesopotamia’s Uruk Period. Because there isn’t a single person alive with the exception of antiquities scholars who hears the word Uruk and doesn’t immediately think -Hai.
***This site has a really good overview of trade routes over the course of ancient, early modern and modern history up to the Industrial Revolution. Also, a pair of very interesting social histories about how and why societies progressed and flourished and/or failed are Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
****In another life in which at 18 I had my life figured out, I’d have a. had better history teachers in high school (I had one great one as a freshman and then suffered through three years of memorizing names and dates for testing purposes) and consequently b. gone to a university that gave me access to ancient languages so I could have studied ancient history in much more depth than I have. In reality, the single most interesting class I have taken in my many, many years of schooling remains a one I took when I was in my sophomore year at a small, liberal arts college called “Israel in the Ancient Near East” which was taught by an archaeologist Rabbi from one of the schools with which my school had reciprocal privileges.