The technological advancements of the bronze age allowed for the production of more refined jewellery and precise tools to make them. Bronze is formed from smelting copper and tin to produce a hard, malleable and recyclable new metal. This technique was invented and generally adapted in the fourth millennium BC, and became widespread within the next thousand years. Other substances including gold, silver and glass also became widely used during this period.
Bronze Age technology fashioned various new forms of jewellery. Bronze could be melted and cast into virtually any shape. It was hammered, stamped and even bent into various forms. Long, thin sections were spiralled to produce earrings and curved to produce bracelets and necklaces. Ornate loops were twisted such as at the ends of necklaces. Flat, plated sections were dented to form various patterns.
Gold and Silver
Gold and silver were both first cast during the Bronze Age. Gold is among the softest metals and could be shaped relatively easily out of a naturally found nugget. The first known casting of gold was in Egypt around 2,500BC, over six hundred years later than bronze. Egyptian amulets and pendants of this period depicted religious iconography, animals and geometric patterns and were made from both gold and bronze.
Metalsmithing first developed as a profession during the Bronze Age. Metalsmiths would construct and repair bronze, gold and silver tools and jewellery. Unlike stone, bone and wood, these metals could be melted down and recycled. New jewellery could be created out of old pieces and fragments. Archeological evidence suggests metalsmiths travelled to perform their services and trading increased to bring metal jewellery to areas lacking natural metal resources.
Beads were extremely rare until the late Bronze Age when glass became more commonly used. They were made in a variety of shapes, including the barrel, sphere and disc. Some more unique shapes are highly indicative of their date of creation, such as the gold palmette of Egypt, the lotus-shaped pendant and lily seed carnelian. With the vast increase in bead production, bead spacers were also used to separate various sections.
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