As far as I know, the Hittite and the Assyrian were Bronze Age empires but one of the reasons why they conquered other people was because of their mass produced iron weapons. Mycenaean used bronze but I believe they expanded their influence based on trading, not fighting.

So, apart from the Egyptians, did any civilization of the Bronze Age became an Empire without developing iron weapons and tools?

  • I think the Hyksos that invaded the Nile Delta didn't have iron weapons either; they won by their use of chariots and composite bows.
    – James Cook
    Oct 1, 2017 at 18:48
  • 2
    I am not very sure so I will left as a comment for someone to turn into an answer, but I think every precolombian empire in America would qualify: Mayas, Aztecs, Incas...
    – SJuan76
    Oct 1, 2017 at 19:28
  • The main benefit of iron was that you only needed one ore supply site, vs two that usually were far apart. Oct 1, 2017 at 20:08
  • @SJuan76 - Looked into it a bit. Probably not worth another answer, but Incas, yes. The Azetcs were on the verge of it. They were using bronze, but weren't smelting it yet.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 13:49
  • What about all Mesoamerican empires?
    – Jos
    Apr 27, 2023 at 4:21

2 Answers 2


This is probably only a partial answer, but when the Hyksos invaded Egypt and established the 15th dynasty they didn't have iron weapons, relying instead on the chariot and composite bow.

In ancient Mesopotamia there are other examples of empires that didn't use iron weapons, such as the Akkadian Empire that started in the 24th century BCE. Another one is the Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1750 BCE), in which, as the Wikipedia article informs, iron was known but was so rare that it was more valuable than gold. A third one in Mesopotamia is the Babylonian Empire (Hammurabi's reign seems to have gone from 1792 to 1750 BCE, although these dates are disputed by some sources).

I have used some Wikipedia articles for this answer, and a lot of information about these peoples can be found in Mario Liverani's The Ancient Near East.

  • Also the Inca, and the Aztecs were on the verge of it at the time of contact.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 13:48

The Empire of Sargon. - the first one.

What is funny, some sources consider bronze as the main target of the existence of that empire. The mechanism was as such:

The Empire needed bronze. Bronze=tin+copper. There were no problems with copper. But tin was expensive. So, the empire wanted to get cheap tin.

The problem was, that every time it wanted the lands of some neighbor that had cheaper tin and got them, the tin price in these lands immediately rose (because in the whole Near East, there are no tin mines, they were all merely tin traders). And the situation repeated again and again. The farthest limits where Sargon and his son got, remain unknown. But they never reached the tin mines. So, the empire fell apart being senseless.

Guys didn't know the economy laws or logic. And that remains to be the custom of dictators :-)

  • I can't find any support for your thesis in that link; and I do find a specific refutation that he was a harsh dictator: "There is no evidence to suggest that he was particularly harsh". More recent excavation also locates at least one tin mine in modern Turkey, at Kestel. Apr 27, 2023 at 7:15
  • I have only one thesis there - that Sargon's empire was the first empire of the bronze age. The link supports that info. Other information is only a funny addition. 2. As for the Turkish tin mine - thank you, it's very interesting. But read the first sentence there - "...tin...was not entirely imported from regions outside the area, as archaeologists had previously thought." I am afraid my info was from some paper sources before 1985. 3. I think, taking over one country after another is enough harsh. Of course, you can have your own opinion on the subject.
    – Gangnus
    Apr 28, 2023 at 4:14

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