Join Date: May 2006
David, I do not understand what is meant by "the Iron Age Proper", however the Hittites were the first technologically advanced people to produce iron tools, artifacts and weapons in any considerable number, and the Hittites had developed viable iron tools and weapons by about 1500BC.
The Hittite Empire collapsed in about 1200BC, and immediately after this collapse the rise of iron technology occurred in Cyprus and Greece. With the rise of iron technology in Greece there was a leap in production of iron artifacts. Also from about 1200 BC we have the first evidence from Cyprus of iron with a carbon content --- ie, steel --- that has been quenched.
It appears that although iron with a carbon content has been found from earlier dates, there was no consistency in the carburisation process, it was an accidental carburisation that had resulted from carburisation in the forge, rather than carburisation in a bloomery. However, carbon content of iron by itself is not enough to produce a tool or weapon that is markedly superior to bronze, that iron with the carbon content needs to be heated and quenched. It would seem that this did not occur until after about 1200BC, so maybe that is what is meant by "Iron Age Proper" .
While it is true that the Ancient Egyptians did cold forge meteoritic material to produce talismans, they did not begin to produce iron tools and weapons until about 500-600BC, when iron smelting technology became available.
Egypt at the time of Tutankhamen did not possess the technology to produce a blade like the KT dagger, but the Hittites did, and there were diplomatic and marriage ties between the Egyptian court and the Hittite court.
For those of us who come from a European cultural background, our idea of the Iron Age tends to focus on the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin, however, it should not be forgotten that evidence of iron working that could date back to 1800BC has been found in Uttar Pradesh in India, where it seems to be associated with the migrations of the Vedic People. The evidence includes slag, tuyeres and remains of furnaces.
If we think of the "The Iron Age" in terms of the entire world, I really do think that that the opinion that the Iron Age began with Greece and Cyprus is a rather limited point of view.