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The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age

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The Bronze Age marks an evolution rather than a break with the Neolithic Period. Here we see diversification and an increasingly hierarchical society, mainly due to the appearance and development of metalworking in bronze.


Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, with average proportions of 90% copper to 10% tin. Sometimes, at the end of the Bronze Age, a proportion of lead was added. There are numerous copper deposits in France, but tin is rare except in Brittany. The copper and tin ores were smelted in a furnace. The metal ingots obtained were melted down again and the resulting fused metal poured into terracotta, stone or bronze moulds. Sheets of bronze were then shaped in the artisan’s workshop, and riveted or soldered. 

2,000 to 800/750 BC

Valuable, easy to hoard and to recycle, bronze was a source of rivalry and discord. Minerals and metal artefacts came into the various supply and trading networks throughout Europe.

Artisans began to specialise; the soldier and the warrior chief asserted their superiority in a still rural society. The struggle for social and economic supremacy led to the production of many lavish items for the use of the powerful or the gods, and consequently to an increasing number of hoards, symptomatic of insecurity and instability.

2,000 to 800/750 BC