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HEAT and HAMMERS.........................................................
THE BRONZE AGE................................................................
THE IRON AGE BEGINS.......................................................
THE FIRST ART
Human beings have evolved over four million years, but Homo Sapiens Sapiens appeared only 35,000 years ago.
The period from the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens to the time when people began to settle down in groups and farm the land is called the Old Stone Age.
They learned to keep themselves alive and they also began to express themselves by drawing things which they saw around them.
This was the first art.
Paintings, engravings and carvings showed people who were hunting animals.
There were also pictures of lions, bears, fish, birds and mammoths in some caves and not only the pictures of bison, deer and horses.
Creating art is part of human instinct. Little children start to draw simple impressions from an early age and these become more realistic as they grow older.
The ability to draw seems to have evolved as people became more advanced.
Early art has been found in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia, but the finest evidence comes from Europe, particularly from the caves in France and Spain.
DRAWING ON THE WALLS
The engravings are sometimes very difficult to make out because they were not carved very deeply.The artists would have needed a range of tools to carry out the carving.
To carve fine lines, they used a tool with a sharp point and edge, called a “burin“, and a sharp pointed tool called an “awl“, usually used for piercing hides.
Larger, stronger tools, such as flint blades and hammers, could be used for chipping away bigger pieces of rock.
Ochre is a kind of earth made up of clay and other minerals. It provided red, yellow and brown pigments, and charcoal provided black. No evidence of blue or green paint has been found.
The pigments were mixed with water to make paint which was applied to the wall with the artist’s hands or with a twig, stick or brush made from animal hair.
Some artists used a simple technique. Someone placed his hand against the wall and the artist sprayed paint on it.
When the hand was taken away, its shape was left on the wall. The paint was probably sprayed on with a simple blowpipe made of bone. Often a whole range of different subjects was represented in a cave.
What were these pictures all about ?
People are hardly ever shown in them. When pictures do include people, they are often wearing masks, animal skins and antlers on their heads.
The paintings are often in parts of caves which are hard to reach.
The artists needed ladders to get to them and also needed lights to work, because they didn`t paint near the mouth of the cave.
They thought that the paintings of animals would make the hunt more successful.
Some of the animals have been painted with arrows stuck in them. Perhaps the people believed that this would help them to kill the animals.
They also may have had religious significance.
But nobody really knows the reason.
When people began to settle in groups and farm the land, they needed containers for storing grain and other crops.
People noticed that clay can be shaped when it is wet and sticky and that it bakes hard when it is heated. They used it to build houses and they also began to make simple clay pots.Pottery is one of the oldest crafts.
The earliest pottery found dates back to 10,000 BC.
In Europe it appeared by about 4,000 BC.
When the pots had been shaped, they had to be baked or “fired“ so that the water in the clay evaporated and became hard.
But the most obvious method was to put the pots into the sun. This system was used in hot parts of the world.
The heat of the sun or of an open fire wasn`t high enough to make the clay water-tight. The answer was to put the fire into a closed oven, or kiln, where higher temperatures can be reached.
Kilns have been found in China, dating back to about 4,500 BC.
They were used in Mesopotamia by about 4,000 BC and 1,000 years later in Egypt.
These early kilns consisted of two chambers.
The lower chamber held the fire and the upper chamber held the pots. The two chambers were connected by a chimney.
THE POTTER`S WHEEL
Early potters realised that their work would be made easier if the pot was turned as they made it. The first step was to put the pot on a disc fixed to a pivot, which was a piece of wood driven into the ground.
This simple method was uncomfortable for the potter, so the disc was raised up on a taller shaft and set into a stone or wooden base.
This appeared in Mesopotamia in about 3,500 BC. But the real potter`s wheel was developed 2,000 years later. A second disc was fitted to the bottom of the shaft, enabling the potter to turn the wheel with his feet.
The potter could now spin the wheel much faster and also had both hands free to shape the pot.
It was easy to make use of the properties of clay, but it wasn`t so easy to find out something about glass.
Glass is a mixture of substances. The main ingredient is “silica“ or sand.
Silica will only melt at a temperature of 1,500°C or more.
CARVING and SHAPING
By about 2,600 BC, glass-makers in Mesopotamia had learned to make glass.
The Egyptians seem to have been the first to master the art of making beautiful glass objects, as we can see from vessels found in royal tombs.
The technique of glass-blowing for shaping items such as drinking glasses and bottles was invented about 100 BC, probably by the Syrians.
The Romans had the largest glass industry of any civilisation in the ancient world.
ArchaeoIogists have discovered glass bottles, beakers, plates, jugs, vases and bottles for cosmetics.
These things have been found in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, which were buried under ash and lava after the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
Some pieces have a moulded trademark which tells archaeologists where they were made. For example, the trademark CCA (Colonia Claudia Agrippinensis) tells us that the piece was made in Cologne, German.
About 9,000 years ago a group of craft-workers made the discovery that was to change the world. They realised that metal was a natural mineral.
Four centuries, stone had been the only material that people used for making tools.
Metal`s great advantage over stone was that it could be poured into moulds and shaped in a variety of ways.
When it cooled, it became hard and strong.
Someone had the idea of beating it with a hammer. It didn`t break like stone.
HEAT and HAMMERS
The first metals to be found were copper and gold. Gold can be hammered into shape easily, but copper is brittle and breaks if it is hammered too much.
The next discovery was that copper could be shaped without breaking if it was first hammered, then heated and hammered again. This process is called “annealing“.
People began to realise that, if they could find rock with metal in it, the two could be separated by heating the rock until the liquid metal flowed out.
This process, known as “smelting“ was discovered by metal-workers in the Middle East in about 7.000 BC.
THE BRONZE AGE
As the search for metals progressed, silver, lead and tin were discovered. The metal-workers realised that these metals all had different properties which made them harder or softer, stronger or more brittle than each other.
Copper was used for making ornaments because it was soft and dented easily.
As metal-workers began to experiment with mixing metals together, they discovered that adding tin to copper made a metal that was both attractive and strong.
Bronze, as this new metal was called, was the first “alloy“, or artificial metal made by mixing two or more natural metals together.
Copper was used over a large part of Europe and Asia by about 3,000 BC. In Asia, bronze was being used as well. By about 2,000 BC, most metal-workers had switched to bronze.
The main sources of copper were Austria and the Balkans, and tin was mainly found in Britain, France, Spain and northern Italy.
The bronze armour, helmets and weapons of an army were symbols of its strength.
THE IRON AGE BEGINS
Gold and silver were always luxury metals for the rich.
Bronze was the dominant metal used for tools until about 500 BC.
About 2,000 BC, however, a new metal was discovered which was much more plentiful than the others. This new metal was iron.
Iron was probably first smelted in Asia between 2,000 and 1,500 BC, but it was not widely used until about 500 BC, because it was a difficult metal to work. It would only melt at temperatures much higher than early furnaces could produce.
Chinese metal-workers had discovered a way of heating iron to such a temperature that it melted and could be cast in moulds. They also discovered that they could lower the melting point of iron by mixing it with a mineral known as “black earth“.