Near East

culture, Naqada culture, Uruk period


Yamna culture, Corded Ware Cernavodă culture, Decea Mureşului culture, Gorneşti culture, Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture, Petreşti culture, Coțofeni culture Remedello culture, Gaudo culture, Monte Claro culture

Central Asia

Yamna culture, Botai culture, BMAC culture, Afanasevo culture

South Asia

Periodisation of the Indus Valley
Indus Valley
Civilisation, Bhirrana
culture, Hakra Ware culture, Kaytha
culture, Ahar-Banas culture Savalda Culture, Malwa culture, Jorwe culture

China Mesoamerica

Metallurgy, Wheel, Domestication
of the horse


v t e

The Chalcolithic
(English: /ˌkælkəˈlɪθɪk/;[1] Greek: χαλκός khalkós, "copper" and λίθος líthos, "stone")[1] period or Copper
Age,[1] also known as the Eneolithic[1] or Æneolithic (from Latin
aeneus "of copper"), was a period in the development of human technology, before it was discovered that adding tin to copper formed the harder bronze, leading to the Bronze
Age. The Copper
Age was originally defined as a transition between the Neolithic
and the Bronze
Age, but is now usually considered as belonging to the Neolithic. The archaeological site of Belovode on the Rudnik mountain in Serbia contains the world's oldest securely dated evidence of copper smelting from 5000 BCE.[2][3]


1 Etymology and terminology 2 Classification and characteristics 3 Regions 4 Dates 5 Europe 6 South Asia 7 East Asia 8 Middle East 9 Africa 10 Americas 11 See also 12 Notes 13 References 14 External links

Etymology and terminology[edit] The multiple names result from multiple recognitions of the period. Originally, the term Bronze Age
Bronze Age
meant that either copper or bronze was being used as the chief hard substance for the manufacture of tools and weapons. In 1881, John Evans recognized that use of copper often preceded the use of bronze, and distinguished between a transitional Copper
Age and the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
proper. He did not include the transitional period in the three-age system of Early, Middle and Late Bronze
Age, but placed it outside the tripartite system, at its beginning. He did not, however, present it as a fourth age but chose to retain the traditional tripartite system.[citation needed] In 1884, Gaetano Chierici, perhaps following the lead of Evans, renamed it in Italian as the eneo-litica, or "bronze–stone" transition. The phrase was never intended to mean that the period was the only one in which both bronze and stone were used. The Copper
Age features the use of copper, excluding bronze; moreover, stone continued to be used throughout both the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
and the Iron Age. The part -litica simply names the Stone Age
Stone Age
as the point from which the transition began and is not another -lithic age. Subsequently, British scholars used either Evans's " Copper
Age" or the term "Eneolithic" (or Æneolithic), a translation of Chierici's eneo-litica. After several years, a number of complaints appeared in the literature that "Eneolithic" seemed to the untrained eye to be produced from e-neolithic, "outside the Neolithic", clearly not a definitive characterization of the Copper
Age. Around 1900, many writers began to substitute Chalcolithic
for Eneolithic, to avoid the false segmentation. It was then that the misunderstanding began among those who did not know Italian. The Chalcolithic
was seen as a new -lithic age, a part of the Stone Age
Stone Age
in which copper was used, which may appear paradoxical. Today, Copper
Age, Eneolithic and Chalcolithic are used synonymously to mean Evans's original definition of Copper Age.[citation needed] The literature of European archaeology in general avoids the use of "Chalcolithic" (the term " Copper
Age" is preferred), whereas Middle Eastern archaeologists regularly use it. "Chalcolithic" is not generally used by British prehistorians, who disagree as to whether it applies in the British context.[4] Classification and characteristics[edit] Analysis of stone tool assemblages from sites on the Tehran
Plain, in Iran, has illustrated the effects of the introduction of copper working technologies on the in-place systems of lithic craft specialists and raw materials. Networks of exchange and specialized processing and production that had evolved during the Neolithic
seem to have collapsed by the Middle Chalcolithic
(c. 4500–3500 BCE) and been replaced by the use of local materials by a primarily household-based production of stone tools.[5] Regions[edit] The emergence of metallurgy may have occurred first in the Fertile Crescent. The earliest use of lead is documented here from the late Neolithic
settlement of Yarim Tepe
Yarim Tepe
in Iraq,

"The earliest lead (Pb) finds in the ancient Near East
Near East
are a 6th millennium BC bangle from Yarim Tepe
Yarim Tepe
in northern Iraq and a slightly later conical lead piece from Halaf period Arpachiyah, near Mosul.[6] As native lead is extremely rare, such artifacts raise the possibility that lead smelting may have begun even before copper smelting."[7][8]

smelting is also documented at this site at about the same time period (soon after 6000 BC), although the use of lead seems to precede copper smelting. Early metallurgy is also documented at the nearby site of Tell Maghzaliyah, which seems to be dated even earlier, and completely lacks pottery. Although traditional view holds that the transition to the Bronze
Age has first occurred in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
in the 4th millennium BCE, finds from the Vinča culture
Vinča culture
in Europe
have now been securely dated to slightly earlier than those of the Fertile Crescent. There was an independent invention of copper and bronze smelting first by Andean civilizations
Andean civilizations
in South America
South America
extended later by sea commerce to the Mesoamerican civilization in West Mexico
(see Metallurgy
in pre-Columbian America and Metallurgy
in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica). According to Parpola,[9] ceramic similarities between the Indus Civilization, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Iran
during 4300–3300 BCE of the Chalcolithic
period suggest considerable mobility and trade. Dates[edit] The Copper
Age in the Middle East
Middle East
and the Caucasus
began in the late 5th millennium BCE
5th millennium BCE
and lasted for about a millennium before it gave rise to the Early Bronze
Age. The transition from the European Copper Age to Bronze Age
Bronze Age
occurs about the same time, between the late 5th and the late 3rd millennia BCE. Europe[edit] Main articles: Chalcolithic Europe
Chalcolithic Europe
and Metallurgy
during the Copper Age in Europe An archaeological site in Serbia
contains the oldest securely dated evidence of coppermaking from 7,500 years ago. The find in June 2010 extends the known record of copper smelting by about 800 years, and suggests that copper smelting may have been invented in separate parts of Asia and Europe
at that time rather than spreading from a single source.[3] In Serbia, a copper axe was found at Prokuplje, which indicates that humans were using metals in Europe
by 7,500 years ago (5500 BCE), many years earlier than previously believed.[10] Knowledge of the use of copper was far more widespread than the metal itself. The European Battle Axe culture
Battle Axe culture
used stone axes modeled on copper axes, even with imitation "mold marks" carved in the stone.[11] Ötzi the Iceman, who was found in the Ötztal Alps
in 1991 and whose remains were dated to about 3300 BCE, was found with a Mondsee copper axe.

Painting of a Copper
Age walled settlement, Los Millares, Iberia

Examples of Chalcolithic
cultures in Europe
include Vila Nova de São Pedro and Los Millares
Los Millares
on the Iberian Peninsula.[12] Pottery
of the Beaker people
Beaker people
has been found at both sites, dating to several centuries after copper-working began there. The Beaker culture appears to have spread copper and bronze technologies in Europe, along with Indo-European languages.[13] In Britain, copper was used between the 25th and 22nd centuries BCE, but some archaeologists do not recognise a British Chalcolithic
because production and use was on a small scale.[14] South Asia[edit] In Bhirrana, the earliest Indus civilization
Indus civilization
site, copper bangles and arrowheads were found. The inhabitants of Mehrgarh
in present-day Pakistan
fashioned tools with local copper ore between 7000–3300 BCE.[15][citation needed] At the Nausharo
site dated to 4500 years ago, a pottery workshop in province of Balochistan, Pakistan, were unearthed 12 blades or blade fragments. These blades are 12–18 cm (5–7 in) long and 1.2–2.0 cm (0.5–0.8 in) and relatively thin. Archaeological
experiments show that these blades were made with a copper indenter and functioned as a potter's tool to trim and shape unfired pottery. Petrographic analysis indicates local pottery manufacturing, but also reveals that existence of a few exotic black-slipped pottery items from the Indus Valley.[16] East Asia[edit] In the 5th millennium BCE
5th millennium BCE
copper artifacts start to appear in East Asia, such as in the Jiangzhai and Hongshan cultures, but those metal artifacts were not widely used.[17] Middle East[edit]

copper mine in Timna Valley, Negev Desert, Israel

The Timna Valley
Timna Valley
contains evidence of copper mining in 7000–5000 BCE. The process of transition from Neolithic
to Chalcolithic
in the Middle East
Middle East
is characterized in archaeological stone tool assemblages by a decline in high quality raw material procurement and use. This dramatic shift is seen throughout the region, including the Tehran
Plain, Iran. Here, analysis of six archaeological sites determined a marked downward trend in not only material quality, but also in aesthetic variation in the lithic artefacts. Fazeli et al. use these results as evidence of the loss of craft specialisation caused by increased use of copper tools.[18] Africa[edit] Main articles: Copper
metallurgy in Africa and Iron metallurgy in Africa North Africa
North Africa
and the Nile Valley
Nile Valley
imported their iron technology from the Near East
Near East
and followed the Near Eastern course of Bronze Age
Bronze Age
and Iron Age
Iron Age
development. However the Iron Age
Iron Age
and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
occurred simultaneously in much of Africa. The earliest dating of iron in Sub-Saharan
Africa is 2500 BCE at Egaro, west of Termit, making it contemporary to the Middle East.[19] The Egaro date is debatable with archaeologists, due to the method used to attain it.[20] The Termit date of 1500 BCE is widely accepted. In the region of the Aïr Mountains
Aïr Mountains
in Niger, we have the development of independent copper smelting between 3000 and 2500 BCE. The process was not in a developed state, indicating smelting was not foreign. It became mature about 1500 BCE.[21] Americas[edit] Main articles: Metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica
Metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica
and Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America The term is also applied to American civilizations that already used copper and copper alloys thousands of years before the European migration. Besides cultures in the Andes and Mesoamerica, the Old Copper
Complex, centered in the Upper Great Lakes region—present-day Michigan
and Wisconsin
in the United States—mined and fabricated copper as tools, weapons, and personal ornaments.[22] The evidence of smelting or alloying that has been found is subject to some dispute and a common assumption by archaeologists is that objects were cold-worked into shape. Artifacts from some of these sites have been dated to 4000–1000 BCE, making them some of the oldest Chalcolithic
sites in the world.[23] Furthermore, some archaeologists find artifactual and structural evidence of casting by Hopewellian and Mississippian peoples to be demonstrated in the archaeological record.[24] See also[edit]

Proto-city Three-age system


^ a b c d The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) ISBN 0-19-861263-X, p. 301: " Chalcolithic
/,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective Archaeology of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BCE, chiefly in the Near East
Near East
and SE Europe, during which some weapons and tools were made of copper. This period was still largely Neolithic
in character. Also called Eneolithic... Also called Copper
Age - Origin early 20th cent.: from Greek khalkos 'copper' + lithos 'stone' + -ic". ^ "Serbian site may have hosted first copper makers". UCL Institute of Archaeology. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2017.  ^ a b Bruce Bower (July 17, 2010). "Serbian site may have hosted first copper makers". ScienceNews. Retrieved 22 April 2017.  ^ Allen, Michael J. et al, eds. (2012). Is There a British Chalcolithic?: People, Place and Polity in the later Third Millennium (summary). Oxbow. ISBN 9781842174968. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ Fazeli, H.; Donahue, R.E.; Coningham, R.A.E. (2002). "Stone Tool Production, Distribution and Use during the Late Neolithic
and Chalcolithic
on the Tehran
Plain, Iran". Journal of Persian Studies. 40: 1–14. JSTOR 4300616.  ^ Moorey 1994: 294 ^ Craddock 1995: 125 ^ Potts, Daniel T. (ed.). "Northern Mesopotamia". A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. 1. John Wiley & Sons, 2012. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-4443-6077-6.  ^ A.Parpola, 2005 ^ ^ J. Evans, 1897 ^ C.M.Hogan, 2007 ^ D.W.Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel
and Language: How Bronze-Age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world (2007). ^ Miles, The Tale of the Axe, pp. 363, 423, n. 15 ^ Possehl, Gregory L. (1996) ^ Méry, S; Anderson, P; Inizan, M.L.; Lechavallier, M; Pelegrin, J (2007). "A pottery workshop with flint tools on blades knapper with copper at Nausharo
(Indus civilisation ca. 2500 BCE)". Journal of Archaeological
Science. 34 (7): 1098–1116. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.10.002.  ^ Christian Peterson, Gideon Shelach, "Jiangzhai: Social and economic organization of a Middle Neolithic
Chinese village". Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol 31, Issue 3, September 2012, p. 25-301 ^ Fazeli, H.; Donahue, R.E; Coningham, R.A.E (2002). "Stone Tool Production, Distribution and use during the Late Neolithic
and Chalcolithic
on the Tehran
Plain, Iran". Iran. 40: 1–14. doi:10.2307/4300616. JSTOR 4300616.  ^ IRON IN AFRICA: REVISING THE HISTORY(2002). Unesco. ^ "Iron in Sub-Saharan
Africa" by Stanley B. Alpern (2005). p. 71. ^ Ehret, Christopher (2002). The Civilizations of Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, pp. 136, 137 ISBN 0-8139-2085-X. ^ R. A. Birmingham and L. E. Eisenberg. Indian Mounds of Wisconsin. (Madison, Univ Wisconsin
Press. 2000.) pp.75-77. ^ T.C.Pleger, 2000 ^ Neiburger, E. J. 1987. Did Midwest Pre-Columbia Indians Cast Metal? A New Look. Central States Archaeological
Journal 34(2), 60-74.


Parpola, Asko (2005). "Study of the Indus script". Transactions of the 50th International Conference of Eastern Studies (PDF). Tokyo: The Tôhô Gakkai. pp. 28–66. . Bogucki, Peter (2007). " Copper
Age of Eastern Europe". The Atlas of World Archaeology. London: Sandcastle Books. p. 66. . Evans, John (1897). The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain. London: Longmans, Green, and Company. p. 197. . Hogan, C. Michael (2007) Los Silillos, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham [1] Miles, David (2016). The Tale of the Axe: How the Neolithic
Revolution Transformed Britain. London, UK: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-05186-3.  Pleger, T. C. (2002). "A Brief Introduction to the Old Copper
Complex of the Western Great Lakes: 4000-1000 BCE". Proceedings of Twenty-seventh Annual Meeting of Forest History Association of Wisconsin. Oconto, Wisconsin: Forest History Association of Wisconsin.  Possehl, Gregory L. (1996). Mehrgarh
in Oxford Companion to Archaeology, edited by Brian Fagan. Oxford University Press.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chalcolithic

' Chalcolithic
Era' ; Elizabeth F. Henrickson . Encyclopædia Iranica 1991 .

v t e

Prehistoric technology


timeline outline Stone Age subdivisions New Stone Age






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Food processing

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Earth oven

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Aşıklı Höyük Qesem Cave

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Projectile points

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Game drive system

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culture Hafting Hand axe


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analysis debitage flake

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industry Striking platform Tool stone Uniface Yubetsu technique

Other tools

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Quiggly hole

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Wattle and daub

Water management

Check dam Cistern Flush toilet Reservoir Water well

Other architecture

features Broch Burnt mound

fulacht fiadh

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Tor enclosure

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Oldest buildings Megalithic architectural elements Midden Timber circle Timber trackway

Sweet Track

Arts and culture

Material goods

Baskets Beadwork Beds Chalcolithic Clothing/textiles


Cosmetics Glue Hides

shoes Ötzi


amber use

Mirrors Pottery

Cardium Grooved ware Linear Jōmon Unstan ware

Sewing needle Weaving Wine

Winery wine press


Art of the Upper Paleolithic Art of the Middle Paleolithic

Blombos Cave

List of Stone Age
Stone Age
art Bird stone Bradshaw rock paintings Cairn Carved Stone Balls Cave

painting pigment

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list British Isles and Brittany

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Funeral pyre Gallery grave

transepted wedge-shaped

Grave goods Jar burial Long barrow

unchambered Grønsalen

Megalithic tomb Mummy Passage grave Rectangular dolmen Ring cairn Simple dolmen Stone box grave Tor cairn Tumulus Unchambered long cairn

Other cultural


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