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Extracting Ores

Ore deposits are mined and refined to become useful materials.

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The Sword and the Stone

The Sword and the Stone

Credit: Work of Romanian goverment
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bronze_age_weapons_Romania.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

During the Bronze Age, swords were made of bronze. These weapons were harder and sharper than other tools of the day. Bronze tools would have been very desirable.

Why It Matters

  • Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Other copper alloys were used during the period. Copper alloys are strong and easier to cast than copper alone.
  • Copper and tin ores are not often found together so making bronze involved trade.
  • Before the Bronze Age was the Stone Age. Tools and weapons were fashioned out of rocks.
  • Credit: Charles W Clark
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61441685@N05/8178675349/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    A pair of bronze swords from ~mid 4th century BC [Figure2]

  • In some places the Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron Age. Iron is not as hard as bronze, but it’s easier to find.

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about the Bronze Age. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why did Bronze Age people go to the trouble of adding tin to copper to make tools? How much tin did they add?
  2. How does a rock containing copper or tin ore become molten copper or tin metal?
  3. How does molten metal become a sword?
  4. Why does the video suggest that the smiths were thought of as mad or magical?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Work of Romanian goverment; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bronze_age_weapons_Romania.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Charles W Clark; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61441685@N05/8178675349/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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