The Bronze Age began c. 2200BC when the casting of Bronze, by mixing 9 parts copper with 1 part tin, was introduced. The bronze allowed products to have characteristics that stone was otherwise unable to produce, for example, strength and longevity, which was important in the creation of swords and equipment, and a shine/colour which was an added quality for jewelry.
The creation of Bronze impacted the trading and living conditions of the Bronze Age as the higher quality objects often led to increased living conditions and material wealth because of the increased value placed upon the objects due to the level of skill required to cast them. Although stone tools were still used, the benefits of bronze casting often outweighed those of the stone. Bronze casting allowed difference with forms and sizes whilst also giving the ability to create multiple items of virtually identical form. Not only this, but, unlike stone, objects were able to be melted down and reused as something else, or remade should something go wrong with the design.
Excavations by archaeologists have found cast blanks, crucibles, bellows, materials and tool storages which allow us to be able to gain an insight into the Bronze Age casting methods. The casting of bronze objects requires certain steps. Firstly, the form of the desired object would be carved into wood, wax or other materials. From this, the form would be covered with clay to create a casting tunnel. This clay would be dried out and fired prior to the casting of the object to prevent the clay drying too fast and cracking, which could result in poorly made/unusable bronze objects. Where wax was used to create the form, during the firing process the wax would melt leaving only the clay behind, therefore creating a ‘negative’ of the intended object. Once this step is complete, the necessary amount of metal required in melted in a crucible and poured into the clay negative. Once the metal has cooled, the clay form is often broken to release the object ready for cleaning and processing to its final form (e.g. for a sword the blades would be worked to sharp, fine edges and the metal buffed and cleaned to a high shine).