What is the most important historical theme of Bronze age society?

For them of course it would have been just surviving, but as historians, when we look back at it now. What's (most likely) the single biggest thing that characterizes the bronze age?

I'm designing a video game with a Bronze Age motif, and admittedly, that is my primary interest for asking this question. Still the history itself also interests me, and so I have turned to this site for information.

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    This isn't games.SE. Could you possibly be a bit more explicit about what history-related information you are looking for? – T.E.D. Sep 9 '13 at 15:45
  • I'm not sure if I can be more explicit. I'm just looking for ideas i.e. "focus on farming and pottery", "focus on settlements and 'war'", "focus on bronze working and trading". In other words, what would make a bronze age game cool for people who love history (and gaming). – Gerben Jacobs Sep 9 '13 at 16:04
  • Although I'd really like to support the idea, I think this question falls into the "requesting a list" category of problems. Perhaps something like "What is the most important historical theme of Bronze age society?" – Mark C. Wallace Sep 9 '13 at 16:18
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    @GerbenJacobs, this question is far too broad. Some suggestions for questions you might ask: What's the social structure of a settlement in Bronze Age Europe (BAE)? What's the predominant religious practice of BAE? What kind of warfare was there in BAE? What was the main cause of death in BAE? What made life in BAE different from what came before? from what came after? – Joe Sep 9 '13 at 16:29
  • I've adjusted the question. – Gerben Jacobs Sep 9 '13 at 19:30

In the Three-Age System, the defining characteristic of the Bronze Age that earlier ages didn't have was the beginnings of urban civilisation.

This happens to coincide with bronze and copper technology, hence the metal-based classification of "Bronze". In practice the really interesting part of a game or book exploring the Bronze Age isn't the metal in use* but the emerging cultures that straddled the boundary of what we perceive as hunter/gatherer and modern civilisation.

This shift shows up in the topics of ancient Greek poems (Proto-Orion, Centaurs) and the initial Judaic antagonism to city-states (Gomorrah, etc).

If you would like to get the feel of a video game exploring the Bronze Age, try UnReal World.

The games defines itself as late-Iron Age as this is the maximum technological era a character can participate in, but a character can also be anything from a Neolithic hunter/gather onwards. So Bronze Age characters and communities exist among the co-mingled settlement on the game's world map. The game is old graphics-wise but has been in continuous development for decades.

* Bronze: Easier to work. Iron: Easier to find

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  • Thanks! That presumtive table was exactly what I was looking for. I've have a look at UnReal World, thanks. – Gerben Jacobs Sep 10 '13 at 7:58
  • The game UnReal World defines itself as late Iron Age because it is exactly that period the game is supposed to take place. In Finland, they didn't have a beginning of urban civilisation during the bronze age. They got their urbanisation at the late Iron Age/early medieval age. That's the problem with the three-age system. It is based on one particular metal, and doesn't take into account any of the other traits that makes a civilisation. – Ulf Tennfors Dec 18 '16 at 15:04

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