History - Copper, Bronze and Iron ages

Copper, Bronze and Iron ages

CHALOTHIC PERIOD - 3,000 to 1,800 BC

Chalcolithic (early Copper Age) This is the period with the earliest phase of metallurgy. Copper, silver and gold started to be worked. It is also a period of increased social complexity, rise of the first civilizations and of exchange networks that would reach to the Baltic for amber and North Africa for ivory and ostrich-egg products.   Dolmens of Valencina de la Concepcion near Sevilla feature elaborate jewellery and carved ornaments. During the Chalcolithic and later Copper Age the inhabitants began to take advantage of the sea. The Dolmens Corominas in Estepona are another example that can be conveniently visited.  

Copper Age settlement in Los Millares, Almeria has evidence of a copper furnace and dedicated buildings. At the end of the Copper Age and beginning of the Bronze Age (about 1,000 BC) a series of hill camps such as on Sierra Bermeja that are dedicated to mining have been detected.   Evidence of habitation in the Cueva de la Mena near Antequera; also the Cuevas de Viera and Menga. The Menga has a vast chamber carved with symbols and human figures, while the Viera is smaller.




The Bronze Age is a historical period characterized by the production of bronze. In southern Iberia this was achieved by smelting mined copper and alloying with traded tin. Bronze itself is harder and more durable than other metals, allowing Bronze Age civilizations to gain a technological advantage.

The center of Bronze Age technology was in the southeast where the civilization of Los Millares was followed by that of El Argar. During this period there was the gradual appearance of bronze tools and daggers in discoveries further afield, leading to another concentration in the south west in what we now know as the Pyrites belt.

The El Algar civilization is beleived to originate in 2.200 BC near the town of Antas in Almeria. The civilization of El Argar extended to all the present provinces of Almería, Murcia, Granada and Jaen. They developed sophisticated ceramic tecniqies and traded with other Mediterranean tribes. In 1.500 BC the El Argar civilization adopted the Aegean custom of burial in pithoi (storage vessels).   By 1.300 BC the El Argar culture had disappeared and was replaced by an array of fortified towns. More info from the Asocación de Amigos del El Algar.

In the lower Guadalquivir another culture is defined by internally burnished pottery. This group might have developed into the later Tartessan.

In the quest for Tin; needed to smelt with localy mined Copper to produce Bronze, these cultures had an interaction with other Atlantic coast cultures, particularly in present day Cornwall and France.

Iron AGE - 1,800 BC

The Iron Age in the Iberian peninsula was developed from two independent migratory cultures. In the north the Hallstatt and Urnfields cultures from central Europe, and in the south the trading colonies formed by the Phoenicians from Lebanon, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians (Tunis). The Celts later came, in several waves, from about 600 BC.

Next: Phoenicians to Carthaginians in Andalucia

Bronze Age and Copper Age Archaelogical Sites in Andalucia


Where to see Bronze Age and Copper Age artefacts

Several museums in Andalucia also have spaces dedicated to artefacts drawn from many of the sites above, or simply found in various locations over the years. Most towns have a municipal museum with local finds. However the main museums include Huelva Museum, Seville´s Archaeological Museum, Seville´s Antiquarium, Seville´s Palacio de Lebrija, as well as the Antequera Municipal Museum, Malaga Museum and Almeria Museum and Cadiz Museum Jaen Museum Iberian Museum.

Next: Phoenicians to Carthaginians in Andalucia