Origin of Bronze
The Bronze Age is the name given to the time period when bronze was the hardest metal that was widely used. This was the 4th millennium BC about the time of the city of Sumer in the Near East. The bronze age in China and India occurred at roughly the same time. Even during the Bronze Age, there were a few items crafted from meteoritic iron, but the smelting of iron was uncommon. The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age, starting around 1300 BC. Even during the Iron Age, bronze was widely used.
Uses of Bronze
Bronze is used in architecture for structural and design elements, for bearings because of its friction properties, and as phosphor bronze in musical instruments, electrical contacts, and ship propellers. Aluminum bronze is used to make machine tools and some bearings. Bronze wool is used instead of steel wool in woodworking because it doesn’t discolor oak. Bronze has been used to make coins. Most “copper” coins are actually bronze, consisting of copper with 4% tin and 1% zinc. Bronze has been used since ancient times to make sculptures. The Assyrian king Sennacherib (706-681 BC) claimed to be the first person to cast huge bronze sculptures using two-part molds, although the lost-wax method was used to cast sculptures long before this time.