The Bronze Age: Copper’s Journey from Mountain to Sea, and onwards to the World

The Bronze Age, commencing around 5200 years ago, was a pivotal epoch in the history of the United Arab Emirates. Marked by a shift towards a hotter and drier climate, the era was particularly characterized by the crafting of copper, which later progressed to bronze.

This was also the time when human culture witnessed a grand leap from prehistory to history, courtesy of the invention of writing. Mere 300 years into its introduction, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia had developed a primitive form of this monumental innovation. Adopting a stylus, they engrave lines on clay tables — a technique fondly referred to as cuneiform writing.

These deciphered clay tablets reveal stories of a people known as the Magan. They were renowned providers of bronze and a soft stone labeled as steatite in French, revered for its sculpting proficiency. Furthermore, the Magan were portrayed as deft shipbuilders, enabling them to distribute their wares far and wide.

Archaeologists have traced the Magan civilization’s origins to the present-day territories of Oman and the UAE. They were adept in extracting ore from mountains, smelting and shaping it into ingots. Their mastery of maritime navigation further allowed them to trade their products extensively via the myriad ports bordering the UAE. Thus, their story encapsulates the remarkable journey of copper as it found its way from the mountains, through oceans, and beyond to foreign lands.

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