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In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much better than the bronze weapons, and Roman officers would prefer to use bronze or steel. Also, steel had existed far earlier than I realized (particularly in the East), just that it was exceedingly rare.

So, I'm wondering how a steel sword compared with a bronze one. Were there any battles fought where one side was outfitted largely with steel, and the other exclusively bronze? Was the outcome as one-sided as I expect?

I'm mainly interested in Middle East / Far East / African examples. I know Europe had abandoned bronze long before it achieved steel. And in the New World the Incas had mastered bronze but were defeated by the Conquistadors, but they also had guns, germs, and horses.

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Too busy to do proper research, but look into details of Hittite Empire. They probably had good examples of such battles. – DVK Jul 3 '12 at 22:35
I'm going to ask this elsewhere, but I'm curious if the use of bronze vs the use of iron, given the the incremental nature of metallurgical envelopment, is as relevant durring 'that' period in the levant (?1200BC to 800bc?) as proliferation in written language (Homer, Dueteronomy, Mahabharata..etc.). – dwstein Aug 21 '12 at 4:16
I think that the consensus opinion on iron vs. bronze is that the former is just as good and much less expensive to produce, not that iron is actually better than bronze. Iron allowed armies to move from elites fighting elites to vast armies composed of people who could never afford bronze armor. – Charles Aug 31 '12 at 0:00

Possibly the Battle of Kadesh. Check out this video.

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Maybe; it's certainly an example where one army had iron/steel, the other bronze. But while it was an intensive (though indecisive) battle, it sounds like it was more of a chariot battle and it's unclear what role if any the weapon metals made. – Bryce Sep 28 '12 at 1:16
However, that said, if you'd be willing to expand on your answer, I'd accept it. Particularly in context of Charles' Aug 31 quote. – Bryce Sep 28 '12 at 1:18

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