Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It's Time to Talk About
Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About

Khalid Elhassan - June 29, 2021

The Bronze Age lasted from about 3300 BC to 1200 BC and laid the foundations for the world in which we live today. It kicked off the widespread use of metallurgy, inaugurated urban civilization, saw the development of practical writing systems, and witnessed the rise of history’s first great kingdoms and empires. Literary epics from back then still influence us to this day, while developments in warfare from over three millennia ago continue to impact the battlefield in the modern era. Following are thirty things about those and other fascinating Bronze Age facts.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Discovery of the Rosetta Stone. Look and Learn

30. The Disappearance of Bronze Age Egypt’s Written Language

Ancient Egypt was the Bronze Age’s greatest and most influential civilization, but for centuries, little was known about its history. It was not for a lack of written records left behind by the Egyptians, but because of an inability to read those records. After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC, Greek became the language of the ruling elite. Native Egyptian writing, whether colorfully picturesque hieroglyphs found on the walls of temples and monuments, or the simpler daily use of demotic script, went into a steady decline. For a while, hieroglyphs continued to be used by priests, and demotic continued to be used by commoners.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Rosetta Stone. Encyclopedia Britannica

However, century succeeded century with Egypt ruled by foreigners who used their own languages, and native Egyptian writing waned. The spread of Christianity eventually killed off the ancient Egyptian religion, and as the old gods’ priests vanished, so did their knowledge of hieroglyphs. Centuries later the arrival of Islam, Arabs, and the Arabic language killed off Egypt’s demotic language and script as well. Eventually, the day arrived when knowledge of Ancient Egyptian writing vanished. What was left was a country full of ancient monuments, covered with colorful and intriguing texts and symbols, but nobody could make head or tails of them.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Rosetta Stone. British Museum Blog.

29. The Fascinating Find That Unlocked the Mysteries of a Dead Language

Pierre Bouchard was a French army captain who accompanied Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt. On August 21st, 1799, as he supervised the restoration of an old fort near the town of Rosetta, Bouchard’s men made a fascinating discovery. They uncovered a block of basalt three feet and nine inches high, with a width of two feet and four inches. It was inscribed with three different types of writing – Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Egyptian demotic scripts. Fortunately for archaeology and history, Bouchard immediately grasped the significance of what came to be known as the Rosetta Stone. He promptly alerted a team of French scholars who had accompanied Napoleon to Egypt.

Nobody knew how to read hieroglyphs or demotic, but scholars could read Greek, and the Greek text informed archaeologists that the stone honored second century BC King Ptolemy V. More importantly, the Greek text declared that the three scripts contained an identical message. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of ancient Egyptian writing, which had been dead for centuries. Several scholars made initial progress in cracking the hieroglyphs, until Jean-Francois Champollion conclusively cracked the code in 1822. From then on, the language, history, and culture of ancient Egypt were opened to scholars as never before.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Goujian Sword. My Modern Met

28. A Bronze Sword That Survived Millennia and Was Still Sharp When Recovered

The Jian sword, known in Chinese folklore as “The Gentleman of Weapons”, is a double-edged straight sword that typically features a guard in the shape of a stingray. Grips are usually made of fluted wood or covered in ray skin, and the handle has a pommel for balance, for trapping or striking an opponent, and to prevent slipping through the user’s hand. Jians have been in use for at least 2600 years and probably far longer. The earliest recorded mention of them dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (771 – 476 BC).

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The water-soaked tomb in which the Goujian Sword was discovered. YouTube

By the sixth century BC, Chinese bronze sword production techniques had reached an advanced stage, and laminated bronze jians with copper sulfide and chromium oxide coatings to resist corrosion became common. The effectiveness of such anti-corrosive techniques can be seen in the Goujian Sword, roughly 2600-years-old, which was recovered from a tomb in 1965. Although the tomb had been soaked in underground water for over 2000 years, the recovered sword had resisted tarnish and still kept a sharp edge.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Chinese bronze Jian sword from the Warring States Period. Pinterest

27. The Historic Chinese Jian Sword

Jian blades usually have what is known as significant distal taper, or decreased thickness. The edge of the blade is only about half as thick as its base near the handle. That is combined with subtle profile taper, or decreased width from the blade’s base to its tip. Typical jians intended for one-handed use usually had blades from 18 to 31 inches long, and most often had blades in the neighborhood of 28 inches. They usually weighed about one and a half pounds to two pounds.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Jian sword and scabbard. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jian blades are comprised of three sections: the tip, middle, and root. The tip typically curves smoothly to a point, and is used to thrust, slash, or make quick cuts. The middle part of the blade is used for deflection, or to draw across an opponent’s flesh to slice him, or to simply cleave him. The jian’s root, the part closest to the handle, is used mostly for defense. Some two-handed jians have also been recovered, that were significantly longer and heavier than average.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Antique Jian swords. Seven Stars Trading

26. A Fine Sword That Was Supplanted by a Simpler One

In the period from the sixth to fourth centuries BC, Jian blades were usually about two feet long. They had spines made of bronze with low tin content, while bronze with higher tin content was used on the edges. That resulted in a sword with a hard cutting edge, that retained a flexible spine to absorb shock. By the fourth century BC, bronze jians began to be phased out. They were replaced by steel jians that used high carbon content steel on the cutting edges to make them hard, and softer steel on the core for flexibility.

Bronze does not allow for long blades, because the metal is not strong enough to withstand stress. So by necessity, bronze swords had to be short and sturdy. Steel does not have such limitations, and its introduction allowed for longer blades. Steel jians featured longer handles than their bronze predecessors for two-handed use, and grew to about three and a half feet long. Some measured up to five feet and three inches. By the first century AD, however, the simpler and easier to use dao sword began to supplant the jian. By the third century AD, the process was completed, and the jian was restricted to the Chinese aristocracy and to ceremonial court usage.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Bronze Age Egyptians used to pee on wheat and barley to test for pregnancy. 9Gag

25. Fascinating Bronze Age Pregnancy Tests

Back in the Bronze Age, long before modern medicine or even the concept of medicine as a professional discipline came into being, people did not have a firm grasp on why some women got pregnant and others did not. They also had no way to predict pregnancy or to tell the gender of a fetus in a woman’s womb. That did not stop some ancient healers – whether they were charlatans or whether they simply acted on sincerely held but mistaken beliefs – from taking a stab at it.

Some of those attempts even worked. One of the earliest written records of pregnancy is found in an Ancient Egyptian papyrus that dates to around 1350 BC. It called for a woman who might be pregnant to pee on wheat and barley seeds over the course of several days. According to that test: “If the barley grows, it means a male child. If the wheat grows, it means a female child. If both do not grow, she will not bear at all“.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Egyptian women. Culture Trip

24. The Ancient Egyptian Pee-On-Plants Pregnancy Test Actually Worked

In a fascinating twist, when the Ancient Egyptian pee-on-wheat-and-barley pregnancy test was subjected to scientific examination via modern methodology in 1963, it turned out that there might actually have been something to it. To be sure, the test did nothing to predict whether the fetus was male or female. However, it did not do too badly when it came to the detection of whether a woman was pregnant or not. 70 percent of the time, the pee of pregnant women actually promoted growth in wheat and barley.

By contrast, the urine of non-pregnant women (and men) did not have a positive impact on the plants’ growth. It was the earliest known example of testing for pregnancy by detecting something unique in the urine of pregnant women. Scholars identified this test as the first recorded in history to work along the lines of modern pregnancy tests that work by identifying something in the pee of pregnant women that s not present in the pee or those who are not with child. The elevated levels of estrogen in pregnant women’s pee might have been the key to the test’s success.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Egyptians swore by the garlic pregnancy test. Web MD

23. The Garlic Pregnancy Test

As seen above, the pee-on-plants pregnancy test actually worked more often than not. Another fascinating Ancient Egyptian pregnancy test, albeit a less successful one, revolved around garlic. Women who might be pregnant would place a clove of raw garlic next to their cervix when they went to bed at night. When they woke up the next morning, if the sulfuric taste of garlic had migrated to their mouth, they were thought to be pregnant. However, modern scientific tests have not supported the effectiveness of the garlic pregnancy test.

Egyptian men also had a special use for garlic. Ancient Greek philosopher Charmidas wrote that Egyptian husbands chewed garlic cloves on their way home from their mistresses. That way, their wives would not suspect that anybody would have been kissing them with such bad breath. Other ancient cultures ascribed various medicinal properties to garlic, from a rabies cure to headache relief. Faith in garlic’s beneficial effects lasted long after the Bronze Age. The Roman naturalist Pliny thought garlic could sap a magnet’s power, while Roman legionaries were fed garlic in the belief that it would give them courage. Either that or repel the enemy with their garlic breath.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Thera Eruption roiled the Bronze Age. Brewminate

22. The Bronze Age’s Most Consequential Natural Disaster

Few natural disasters have ever had a greater impact on the trajectory of history and shaped the course of events than did the Thera Eruption, circa 1642 – 1540 BC. It took place in what is today the Greek island of Santorini and was one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history, four times as powerful as the gigantic Krakatoa explosion of 1883. It sundered the island of Thera, and wiped out the flourishing Minoan settlements of nearby Akrotiri and surrounding islands.

However, that was not close to the entirety of its impact. The Thera Eruption and its aftermath also gave rise to the legend of the vanished civilization of Atlantis, which was doomed by a natural catastrophe and swallowed by the sea. Beyond legend, however, the eruption was one of history’s most impactful natural disasters. Its consequences outlasted its own era, had knock-on effects and set in motion a chain of causation that led directly to the world in which we live today.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The island of Thera, today’s Santorini, before and after the eruption. Science Photo Library

21. A Mediterranean Disaster Whose Impact Reached as Far Away as China

The plume and volcanic lightning from the Thera Eruption were recorded on the Ancient Egyptian Tempest Stele. It describes a great storm that struck Egypt, and destroyed tombs, temples, and pyramids as far south as Thebes, 500 miles from the Mediterranean coast. The eruption wrecked the island of Santorini where the volcano was located, and nearby Akrotiri. The ash and dust thrown into the air led to a volcanic winter. Its effects were felt – and recorded – as far away as China. There, the Bamboo Annals, a chronicle of Ancient China, describes a severe cold spell around this time.

Closer to home, the Thera Eruption triggered strong earthquakes and powerful tsunamis. They caused widespread devastation in nearby islands and along the coast of Crete, home of the Minoan civilization. The Minoans, a fascinating and enigmatic culture, were the Mediterranean’s greatest naval power at the time, and dominated the Aegean Sea and what became Greece and the Greek world. The havoc wreaked upon Crete contributed in a major way to the decline of their civilization, and paved the way for its eventual extinction.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ruins of the Minoan civilization, whose collapse was hastened by the Thera Eruption. Science News

20. The Thera Eruption Altered the Trajectory of History in Fascinating Ways

The Minoans were a trading power oriented towards Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean and were strongly influenced by those civilizations. While the Minoans flourished, the Aegean world in their thrall was oriented in the same direction, strongly influenced by the Egyptian and eastern civilizations as well. Thera’s weakened Crete and the Minoans sufficiently to create a power vacuum in the Aegean, which was filled by the emerging Mycenaeans in mainland Greece. They conquered Crete and destroyed the Minoans, and became the dominant power of the Aegean. Unlike the Minoans, the Mycenaeans’ energies were not focused on trade with Egypt and the Levant.

Instead, they focused on the colonization of the Aegean, the western coast of Asia Minor, the Black Sea coast, and the western Mediterranean. That change of orientation significantly reduced Egyptian and eastern influences upon the Greeks who flourished centuries later, long after the Mycenaeans had themselves disappeared. When they flourished, the Greeks did so as a civilization and culture distinct from those of Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, rather than an extension and outpost of those civilizations. Western civilization is founded upon that of Ancient Greece, so western civilization and its impact on the modern owe much to the Bronze Age Thera Eruption.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Achilles dragging the body of Hektor behind his chariot outside the walls of Troy. History Channel

19. The Fascinating Poet Credited With the Bronze Age Greeks’ Greatest Literary Legacy

Sing, Goddess, Achilles’ rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls,
Of heroes into Hades’ dark,
And left their bodies to rot as feasts
For dogs and birds, as Zeus’ will was done.
Homer – opening verses of the Iliad

Homer (circa eighth century BC) is the name ascribed to the author of the Iliad and Odyssey, Ancient Greece’s fascinating national epics about the Bronze Age Trojan War and its aftermath. Together, the two poems are the centerpieces of Ancient Greek literature and culture. Beyond the Greek world, Homer’s epics are arguably history’s most influential poems.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Greek vase depicting Trojan War combat. National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece

The Iliad and Odyssey shaped not only Ancient Greek culture, which viewed them as sources of moral and practical instruction but exerted an outsize influence on Western culture in general. Greek tradition has it that Homer was a wandering blind bard from Chios in Ionia, a region of former Greek settlement on the western coast of modern Turkey. However, there is no scholarly consensus on whether those poems were actually the work of a single author, or the outcome of a process spread over generations, and to which numerous poets contributed.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Homer. Encyclopedia Britannica

18. Bronze Age Greek Poets Used a Few Stock Phrases to String Together Poems That Were Thousands of Verses Long

The Iliad and Odyssey were first composed during a centuries-long period of societal and cultural collapse, known as the “Greek Dark Ages”. Literacy vanished from the Greek world during that bleak period, so poems were transmitted orally for generations, until writing was rediscovered. They were composed to be memorized and sung, and used a formulaic style and structure that relied on stock phrases and repeated verses that lend themselves to memorization. Memorization was further helped by reliance on a number of fixed phrases to express ideas in similar parts of verse.

For example, Odysseus would be referred to with the single word “divine”, the two-worded “many counseled”, or three-worded “much-enduring divine”. The choice depended on where “Odysseus” was inserted in a verse, and how much space was left in that verse to fill for it to come out in the desired hexameter. That trick meant that bards did not have to memorize long poems such as the 16,000-verse Iliad. If they knew the stock phrases and key words, they could just plug them in instead, which made it easier to recite poems thousands of verses long.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Trojan horse in a scene from 2004’s ‘Troy’. BBC

17. The Man Who Confirmed That the Bronze Age’s Most Famous Besieged City Had Actually Existed

The Iliad is probably the Bronze Age’s best-known adventure story. Set in and around Troy, it recounts the final year of the Trojan War, sometime in the thirteenth century BC. As told by Homer, Troy was besieged for ten years by a Greek coalition led by Mycenae’s High King, Agamemnon. They wanted to recover Helen, wife of Sparta’s king and Agamemnon’s brother Menelaus after she had been seduced by Paris, the son of Troy’s King Priam. The epic poem features plenty of rollicking exploits, graphic and gory combat, and many plot twists and turns. The city eventually falls when the wily Odysseus tricks the Trojans into letting in a huge wooden horse with concealed Greek warriors within.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Heinrich Schleimann. Let’s English

The Iliad is an awesome story, but as history, Troy and the Trojan War were dismissed for centuries as pure myth. However, German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann believed that there was actual truth in the Iliad, and set out to prove it. He excavated from 1870 to 1890, and initial finds of gold and silver convinced him that he had found Homer’s Troy. In reality, Schliemann had excavated the right city, but the wrong period; his initial finds dated from about 1000 years before the Trojan War. The site actually held the remains of nine different Troys, built atop each other. Excavations continued after Schliemann’s death in 1890, and today his finds are labeled Troy I through IX, with Troy VI being the likeliest candidate for Homer’s Troy.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Schliemann’s excavation of Mycenaean ruins. ThoughtCo

16. Unmasking Mycenae’s High King

Heinrich Schliemann is one of the luckiest archaeologists to have ever lived. After he excavated and proved the existence of ancient Troy, he captured lightning in a bottle once more. This time in mainland Greece, where he found what came to be known as the Mask of Agamemnon – the king who led the Greeks against Troy. It happened in 1876, during Schliemann’s excavation of the royal cemetery near the Lion Gate, the entrance to the citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. In one of the graves, he found a funeral mask covered in gold, which he attributed to the Iliad’s legendary Greek high king.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Mask of Agamemnon. WTTW, Chicago

As Schliemann put it in a telegraph that announced the discovery: “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon“. However, as with his finds in Troy, Schliemann got the broad outlines right, but was iffy when it came to the details. Later research demonstrated that the mask did, indeed, belong to a Bronze Age Mycenaean king. However, this king had died circa 1580 BC to 1550 BC – two and a half to three centuries before the events of the Trojan War. The name stuck, however, and Schliemann’s discovery is still commonly referred to as the Mask of Agamemnon.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Statue of Fu Hao outside her tomb. My China Year

15. Bronze Age China’s Fascinating Warrior Queen

Bronze Age China’s warrior queen Fu Hao (died circa 1200 BC) was one of history’s most fascinating and extraordinary women. She was one of the Shang emperor’s numerous wives, but she was so remarkable that she not only became the imperial favorite, but also the most prominent figure in court and throughout China during her lifetime. In addition to being a wife and mother, Fu Hao was also a formidable general who led armies into battle, as well as a priestess and a capable politician.

It was traditional for Shang emperors to marry a wife from each nearby tribe to cement their allegiance, and that is how Fu Hao came to be one of emperor Wu Ding’s 64 wives. Once at court, she exhibited remarkable intelligence, as well as military aptitude, and rose rapidly, becoming the emperor’s favorite wife and his most trusted confidant. She also rose to command the Shang armies, and led them into battle where she defeated and subdued restive tribes, and brought them into the Chinese fold.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Fu Hao’s tomb. Flickr

14. Fu Hao Led One of Ancient China’s Biggest Armies

One of Fu Hao’s earliest victories was notched against an obstinate tribe that had troubled the Shang for generations. She decisively defeated them in a single battle and ended their menace once and for all. She led numerous other military campaigns to consolidate Shang rule and is credited with the successful execution of the earliest large-scale ambush in Chinese history. The fascinating Bronze Age warrior queen led an army of 13,000 men, which was huge for that era, and the largest ever assembled under any one Shang general.

With that force under her command, Fu Hao successfully expanded and pacified the imperial borders. She was given her own fiefdom at the edge of Shang territory, in order to guard against potential enemy encroachment. She predeceased her husband, who built her a lavish tomb. In the 1970s, archaeologists discovered Fu Hao’s tomb intact, with a treasure trove of jade and bronze. It also included a large and varied collection of war artifacts, such as great battle-axes, which were apparently her favorite weapons.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The approach routes to Megiddo. Imgur

13. History’s First Reliably Recorded Battle Was Fought During the Bronze Age

The Bronze Age’s Battle of Megiddo, which took place in 1457 BC, is the earliest recorded battle for which we have reliable details. It was fought between an Ancient Egyptian army led by Pharaoh Thutmose III, and a coalition of rebellious Canaanite states that sought to free themselves of vassalage to Egypt. The rebellion’s center was the city of Megiddo, an important hub at the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley, astride the main trade route between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Thutmose advanced from Egypt at the head of a strong army to Yaham, en route to the rebel city.

From Yaham, the pharaoh had the choice of three routes: a southern one via Taanach, a northern route via Yoqneam, and a central one via Aruna that would take him straight to Megiddo (see map above). The southern and northern routes were longer, but safer. The central route was quicker but risky: it involved passage through narrow ravines in which an approaching army would have to advance single file. Once an army was in the ravines, an alert enemy could block the entrances and exits and bottle it up. As seen below, Thutmose took that risk and transformed it from a liability to an asset.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Bronze Age Battle of Megiddo. Pinterest

12. A Brilliant Maneuver With a Sequel More Than Three Millennia Later

Pharaoh Thutmose III realized that the central route through Aruna was so obviously dangerous that no reasonable commander would risk his army in its ravines. He also guessed that the rebels would leave it unguarded because they would not expect the Egyptians to be so foolhardy as to run such an obvious risk and thus court disaster. So he took the central route. As he had guessed, it was unguarded. The Egyptians arrived at Megiddo sooner than expected, and caught the Canaanites flat-footed.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Destroyed Ottoman equipment and carriages after the 1918 Battle of Megiddo. Imperial War Museum

The result was a decisive victory that secured Egyptian hegemony over the region for centuries. The Bronze Age battle had a fascinating sequel 3,375 years later, during World War I. British General Edmund Allenby, an avid student of ancient history, was confronted with the same choice as Thutmose III as he led an army that advanced from the south against Ottoman and German forces entrenched in the Jezreel Valley. He stole a march upon them and burst unexpectedly in front of Megiddo with an advance through the central route via Aruna.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Egyptian cat mummies. Daily Art Magazine

11. Ancient Egyptians Liked Cats, But Not The Way Cat Owners Like Cats Today

Cats are probably the animal most commonly associated with Ancient Egypt. For good reason – there are thousands of cat statues all over the place, and millions of cat mummies. Indeed, mummified cats were so common that archaeologists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries recorded that Egyptian farmers routinely crushed and used them as fertilizers. So it stands to reason that Ancient Egyptians must have really loved cats and treated them as pampered pets. That was a common assumption, but it turned out to be untrue. Recent discoveries and research indicate that while cats were popular in ancient Egypt, they were not popular for the same reasons as in the modern era.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ancient Egyptian cat goddess Bastet. Wikimedia

Ancient Egyptians did not see cats like we do today: as pets and cute fur ball companions. Instead, they saw them as religious sacrifices to be killed in order to please one of their gods. Those millions of mummified cats? They were not dear pets, lovingly preserved by their saddened owners after their sad demise. Instead, they were bred by the millions near temples, and as soon as they got big enough – usually around five or six months old, but sometimes as young as two to four-month-old kittens – they were sold to the faithful to sacrifice at the temple. So while Ancient Egyptians liked cats, it was a different kind of “like” than that exhibited by modern cat owners towards their cuddly felines.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
People in the Bronze Age believed in the healing properties of donkey poop. iStock Photos

10. The Healing Properties of Poop

Most people would agree that dung is disgusting. However, it is widely available, and at some point, some ancient people decided that it might be useful as medicine. Whether for better or for worse, the exact details of how somebody first arrived at that brainstorm are lost in the mists of history, but there must have been an interesting tale involved. However it came about, by the time civilization arose, poop was often prescribed to treat a variety of illnesses and assorted maladies.

Ancient Egyptians, for example, swore by the healing properties of donkey, dog, gazelle, and fly dung, and the ability of those creatures’ droppings to ward off evil spirits. They also used animal poop to heal their wounds. On the one hand, that might have caused tetanus and other infections on occasion, especially when poop was applied to open cuts. On the other hand, the microflora in some animal dung contains antibiotics, so the remedy might actually have worked every now and then.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Many ancients thought that crocodile poop was a great contraceptive. iSafari

9. The Fascinating Bronze Age Crocodile Poo Contraceptive

The use of fly poop as a medicinal treatment raises some fascinating questions. Not just about its effectiveness, if it actually was effective. The more fascinating question is just how did people back then, long before microscopes were invented, even manage to spot, let alone gather, tiny fly turds? However they went about the collection of fly poop, the Ancient Egyptians had a good reputation as physicians. As a result, many contemporary cultures during the Bronze Age and afterward looked up and tried and emulate their medicinal practices.

The Ancient Greeks in particular borrowed a lot from the Egyptians, and one of those borrowed things was a medical prescription that used crocodile poop as birth control. Ancient Greek women believed that crocodile dung inserted into their vaginas would serve as a powerful contraceptive. It might have even worked. At least in the sense that to encounter a vagina full of crocodile poop might have been such a huge turn-off that it prevented sexual intercourse in the first place.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ozymandias. Netmundi

8. The Bronze Age King Who Fought the First Battle Whose Details are Known

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—”Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away – Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ramses II. Wikimedia

Ozymandias was the Greek name for Pharaoh Ramses II (circa 1303 – 1213 BC), or Ramses the Great – a title he might have bestowed upon himself. Often identified as the pharaoh who clashed with Moses in the Exodus story, this Ramses was the greatest, most powerful, and most celebrated ruler of the New Kingdom, Ancient Egypt’s most powerful period. A fascinating figure and a warrior through and through, he battled sea pirates, fought numerous campaigns in the Levant, and led several military expeditions into Nubia. While Thutmose III fought history’s first reliably recorded battle, Ramses fought the first battle whose tactical details have been recorded.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Relief from Memphis depicting Ramses II capturing, from left to right, Nubian, Libyan, and Syrian enemies. Cairo Museum

7. The Bronze Age Super Powers That Jockeyed for Control of the Middle East

Two centuries after Thutmose III fought the Battle of Megiddo, Ramses II fought the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC. It was the earliest battle in recorded history for which details such as tactics and formations are known. It was also the largest chariot battle ever fought, in which up to 6000 chariots took part. It occurred against a backdrop of a generations-long rivalry between Egypt and the Hittite Empire of Anatolia, the superpowers of their day, as they jockeyed to control the lands of Canaan between them. Early in his reign (1279 – 1213 BC), Ramses decided to finish off the Hittites and patiently worked for years to gather a powerful army and build up supply depots.

Ramses marched north from Egypt into Canaan with four divisions. First was the Amon Division, led by the pharaoh in person, followed by the divisions of Re, Ptah, and Sutekh. When he heard the news, the Hittite King Muwatalli II marched south from Anatolia into Canaan, with 3,000 heavy chariots and 8,000 infantry. In the late spring of 1274 BC, Ramses emerged from the hills above the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, near the border between modern Syria and Lebanon. He had not spotted the Hittites, who were far closer to his army than he thought.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ramses II in the Battle of Kadesh, as he slays one foe and tramples another. Wikimedia

6. A Desperate Battle, and a Bronze Age Propaganda Campaign to Paint it as a Glorious Victory

The Hittites hid behind Kadesh when Ramses II neared the city, and nomads falsely informed the pharaoh that his enemies were nowhere near. An emboldened Ramses hurried with the Amon Division to Kadesh and left the rest of his army behind. As Ramses advanced, the Hittites circled around the city, and took care to keep Kadesh between themselves and the Egyptians. As Ramses and the Division of Amon made camp, the Division of Re straggled up the road behind. That was when 2000 massed Hittite chariots charged directly across the Egyptian line of march. They wrecked the Division of Re, then surrounded Ramses in his camp.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ramses II with a sickle sword at the Battle of Kadesh. Flickr

The pharaoh gathered his personal guards, and led a desperate charge that drove some Hittite leaders into the river. Fortunately for Ramses, the Hittites behind him abandoned their chariots to loot the Egyptian camp. That was when the Division of Sutekh arrived, and slaughtered the looters. As King Muwatalli sent in the rest of his chariots, the last Egyptian Division of Ptah arrived, and the battle lasted until sunset. After prolonged slaughter, the Hittites finally withdrew into Kadesh and left the field – and victory – to Ramses. Upon his return, the warrior pharaoh littered Egypt with monuments and murals that detailed the engagement and in which he described himself as “Ramses, the Great, Conqueror of the Hittites“. It is thanks to that bragging that know so much about the battle.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Bronze Age Queen Ahhotep I. Russian Institute of Egyptology

5. The Fascinating Bronze Age Egyptian Warrior Queen

Bronze Age warrior Queen Ahhotep I (circa 1560 – 1530 BC) shone during Ancient Egypt’s Seventeenth Dynasty. She led armies in combat against the Hyksos – foreign Semitic interlopers who had conquered Egypt’s Nile Delta. After Ahhotep’s husband was killed fighting the invaders, she took over Egypt’s throne and armies as regent during the minority of her son, Ahmose I. As regent, she kept up the pressure against the Hyksos until her son came of age and took over the fight.

According to a stele that recorded her accomplishments: “The king’s wife, the noble lady, who knew everything, assembled Kemet [Egypt]. She looked after what her Sovereign had established. She guarded it. She assembled her fugitives. She brought together her deserters. She pacified her Upper Egyptians. She subdued her rebels, The king´s wife Ahhotep given life. … She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt… She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters, she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels.”

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ring of Queen Ahhotep I. Louvre Museum

4. Ahhotep’s Prowess Won Her Ancient Egypt’s Highest Military Award

Ahmose I, Ahhotep’s son, eventually came of age and took the reins of power, and took over where his mother and his father before her had left off. Ahmose fought the Hyksos, beat and drove them out of Egypt, and reunified the kingdom. He then went on to found the Eighteenth Dynasty, Ancient Egypt’s most famous and successful ruling family. During their reign, the Egyptian Empire reached the zenith of its power and stretched from Syria in the north to Nubia in the south, and from Mesopotamia in the east to the Libyan desert in the west.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Artifacts from Queen Ahhotep’s tomb. Temple of Mut

The fascinating warrior queen was not done fighting, however. While Ahhotep’s son was busy in the south on a campaign against the Nubians, a cabal of Hyksos-sympathizing rebels tried to seize the throne. She rallied loyal troops, fought off the rebels, and foiled their attempt. For that, she was rewarded with the “Golden Flies of Valor” – Ancient Egypt’s highest military award for courage. It was discovered by archaeologists in Ahhoteps tomb, along with weapons and jewelry, thousands of years later.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ramses III’s mummy. Wikimedia

3. The Last Great Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

The kingdom and civilization of Ancient Egypt lasted for roughly three millennia, from around 3100 BC until its conquest and annexation by the Romans in 30 BC. For most of the first two-thirds of its existence, Ancient Egypt was a dominant great power in its neck of the woods. Then it went into a steady decline during its last millennium or so. Pharaoh Ramses III (reigned 1186 – 1155 BC) is considered to be the last great ruler of that long-lived civilization.

This Ramses left his mark as a warrior king, and he is most famous for having fought against a confederation of mysterious marauders known as “The Sea Peoples”. Scholars and historians to this day are unsure just who exactly the Sea Peoples were, but what is known is that they overran nearly all of the era’s Mediterranean kingdoms. Except for Egypt. The invaders inflicted widespread devastation that ushered in what came to be known as the Late Bronze Age Collapse – a dark age that lasted for centuries, during which civilization took a nose dive.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
Ramses III defeating the terrifying Bronze Age Sea Peoples. Reddit

2. A Decisive Victory Against the Bronze Age’s Most Terrifying Marauders

The one Bronze Age kingdom that the Sea Peoples failed to conquer was Ramses III’s Egypt. In the eighth year of his reign, the mysterious marauders invaded Egypt by land and by sea, while Libyans from the west also had a go at the pharaoh’s kingdom. Ramses took on and crushed the invaders. Ancient Egyptians did not have a great reputation as seamen, but on this one occasion, with everything at stake, they put up a determined resistance. Ramses massed archers along the banks of the Nile, and they kept up a steady and heavy fire that devastated the invaders as they tried to disembark. Then Egyptian ships struck, used grappling hooks to secure themselves to the enemy’s vessels, and slaughtered the Sea Peoples in vicious hand-to-hand fighting.

The victory was total. As Ramses put it on inscriptions that commemorated the event: “As for those who reached my frontier, their seed is not, their heart and their soul are finished forever and ever. As for those who came forward together on the seas, the full flame was in front of them at the Nile mouths, while a stockade of lances surrounded them on the shore, prostrated on the beach, slain, and made into heaps from head to tail“. Unfortunately, as seen below, although Ramses had saved Egypt, he was unable to save himself from his own family.

Awe Inspiring Facts About the Bronze Age It’s Time to Talk About
The Screaming Mummy of Prince Pentawer, a Bronze Age crime culprit. Pinterest

1. The Pharaoh Who Saved Egypt Could Not Save Himself From His Own Family

Ancient Egyptian pharaohs often had multiple wives and many sons, and Ramses III was no exception. His designated heir was his son Ramses IV, but one of his minor wives, Queen Tiye, wanted her own son Pentawer to become the next ruler instead. So she enlisted a group of palace officials in a conspiracy to assassinate the pharaoh. In 1155 BC, as the pharaoh relaxed amidst the royal harem in a palace near Luxor, the plotters struck, took him by surprise, and slashed his throat. Unfortunately for the plotters, only the first part of their plan, the assassination, had succeeded.

The follow-up did not fare so well. Queen Tiye and her accomplices failed to install her son Pentawer on the throne, which had been their ultimate goal. The assassinated pharaoh’s designated heir Ramses IV rallied his supporters, secured the throne, rounded up the plotters, and executed 28 of them. Pentawer was either strangled to death, or was buried alive. Millennia later, his remains were discovered, and his face bore an agonized expression that led to its designation as “The Screaming Mummy“. Other plotters had their ears and noses cut off. Queen Tiye’s punishment is not recorded.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ancient Egypt Online – Ahhotep I

Ancient Origins – Questioning the Mycenaean Death Mask of Agamemnon

BBC – The Weird History of Contraception

Bright Side – 10 Things Ancient People Did That Would be Totally Weird Today

Canadian Museum of History – Volcanic Eruption at Thera (Santorini)

Discovering Ancient Egypt – Mystery of the Rosetta Stone

Encyclopedia Britannica – Homer, Greek Poet

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe: Volumes 1 – 7, From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great (1990)

History Collection – Wrath of Olympus

BBC – Did the Trojan War actually happen?

History of Royal Women – Fu Hao, Queen, General, and Priestess

Kitchen, Kenneth – Pharaoh Triumphant: The Life and Times of Ramesses II, King of Egypt (1983)

Live Science – How the Eruption of Thera Changed the World

Live Science – Mummified Kitten Served as Egyptian Offering

Live Science – Mummy Murder Mystery: King Ramesses III Throat Slashed

Moseley, James – The Mystery of Herbs and Spices: Scandalous, Romantic, and Intimate Biographies of the World’s Most Notorious Ingredients (2006)

Murray, George Gilbert Aime – The Rise of the Greek Epic (1960)

Office of NIH History – A Timeline of Pregnancy Testing

Page, Sir Denys Lionel – The Santorini Volcano and the Destruction of Minoan Crete (1970)

Redford, Donald B. – The Wars in Syria and Palestine of Thutmose III (2003)

Tyldesley, Joyce – Ramesses: Egypt’s Greatest Pharaoh (2000)

Wikipedia – Battle of Megiddo (15th Century BC)

Wikipedia – Harem Conspiracy

Wikipedia – Jian

World History Encyclopedia – Troy