Iron swords and daggers didn’t start with the Iron Age. King Tutankhamun was buried with an iron dagger likely made from a meteorite in the 14th century B.C., which is way before scholars would place the beginning of the Iron Age. The key innovation of Iron Age weapons was not that they used iron, but that they eventually used steel produced from new metallurgy techniques.
Early iron swords were not necessarily better or harder than bronze ones, but innovations like quenching helped make strong, steel swords that became more common over time. One of the most famous surviving Iron Age steel swords is the Vered Jericho, which dates to the 7th century B.C. in ancient Israel.
Even as iron and steel became more widespread, Iron Age people continued to make bronze weapons and tools, too. In addition, there were new technological developments that used older materials like gold, silver and even stone.
Gold and silver weights existed during the Bronze Age, but the first coins—i.e., imprinted metal pieces for exchange—seem to have emerged in Iron Age Anatolia, Erb-Satullo says.
The first coins appeared around 600 B.C. in Lydia, a kingdom on the Anatolia peninsula (modern-day Turkey). These coins, imprinted with images like lions, had similar weight and purity, and so may have been used as a form of currency.
The Roman Empire began to produce coins in the late 4th century BC, starting with bronze and later shifting to silver and gold. Coins unearthed in London dating to the first century BC, around the time the Roman Empire invaded the region, show the god Apollo on one side and a charging bull on the other.
5. Rotary Quernstone
Another Iron Age invention that doesn’t directly involve iron is the rotary quernstone. This was a new type of quern, a tool used for grinding grain by hand that has existed for thousands of years, since before 5600 B.C.
The rotary quernstone that emerged in Iron Age Britain around 400 B.C. consisted of two stones on top of each other. The top stone had a hole in it in which a person would pour grain. The user would then rotate the top stone to grind the grain between the stones, and the ground grain would spill out over the sides.
The rotary quernstone took more time to make than other querns, but was able to produce grain much faster.