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Did protecting access to bronze drive imperialism?

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posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 07:08 PM
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One of the first empires, the Akkadian Empire, started in 2334 BC and it covered territory from Mesopotamia towards Anatolia. Here is a link to the wikipedia page:
Akkadian Empire

The bronze age in Mesopotamia started in 2900 BC.

So this makes me think that bronze was the first strategic resource in the way that oil is strategic today. Imperialism must have been incredibly burdensome before modern communications and transportation, so there must have been a reason for them to suddenly take on that burden. I think the consumers of bronze in agricultural areas like Mesopotamia felt the need to control trade routes to the bronze supplies in Turkey.

This is just my theory, and I don't know that much. I was curious if somebody could tell me if this is right.




posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 10:27 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 


You might find this of interest

Copper

Copper and Bronze

I'd say that obsidian, flint and ocher were probably more strategic earlier on, at least they were widely traded
edit on 7/3/12 by Hanslune because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 11:22 PM
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Originally posted by Hanslune
reply to post by cloudyday
 


You might find this of interest

Copper

Copper and Bronze

I'd say that obsidian, flint and ocher were probably more strategic earlier on, at least they were widely traded
edit on 7/3/12 by Hanslune because: (no reason given)


Thanks, I only just read the beginning of those papers, but I like reading about things like that.

My thought on bronze versus earlier trade goods like flint and ocher is that bronze may have been produced in only a few locations compared to flint, so a rival power or greedy middle man could more easily shut down the supply of bronze to Mesopotamia. Therefore the Akkadians would gradually seek greater control over the trade routes until they had an empire. I imagine flint mines were more widespread, but I'm just assuming that.



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 09:42 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 


Probably not sources of Bronze were fairly common, especially in Cyprus. It was tin and arsenic that were rare

The map below might make things clearer

This shows the largest deposits of ore known, there were lots of lesser ones too



Map of the Assyrian empire




posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 11:32 AM
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reply to post by Hanslune
 


O.k. maybe bronze is not the right resource. But here is my real question: Did empires happen in the bronze age because of some new capability that made imperialism less costly or did empires happen because they became more necessary (e.g. protecting trade routes to new strategic resources)?



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 11:56 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 

I think your basic idea is right, except that bronze is not a natural resource, but a mixture of natural resources, especially copper and tin. So nations were hoping to secure supplies of copper and tin. The other responders were alluding to this point, but not spelling it out.
Also, if your nation was in Mesopotamia, you needed to look for outside supplies of wood and stone as well.

Control of trade was another thing. If you sat on a crucial point in a trade route, either living there or controlling it, you could rake in a fortune in tolls. If you were powerful, you would do this, and become wealthy enough to keep your power. It worked for Solomon.

PS On the question of "new capabilities", consider the strength of bronze armour (as in the Iliad), and also read up about the development of chariot warfare in the bronze age.


edit on 8-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 12:10 PM
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Originally posted by cloudyday
reply to post by Hanslune
 


O.k. maybe bronze is not the right resource. But here is my real question: Did empires happen in the bronze age because of some new capability that made imperialism less costly or did empires happen because they became more necessary (e.g. protecting trade routes to new strategic resources)?


Why did empire happen?

imho

Because city states happened, and were organized to control agricultural irrigation. It was found that others were a military threat and the easiest way to end the threat was to conquer them - which was found to add benefits to the conqueror in the way of security and tribute plus ego enhancement for the King



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 12:15 PM
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reply to post by Hanslune
 

I think, with regard to Mesopotamia, we can detect different stages.
First, competition with neighbouring states about irrigation rights, which ends up as a unification process.
Then fighting off raiders from less settled areas, like the hills to east and north, and invading their home territories in an attempt to subdue them.
Then, later, the drive north-west and west for sources of metal etc, as mentioned in the OP, and this is developed in the Bronze age.



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 12:46 PM
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Originally posted by Hanslune

Originally posted by cloudyday
reply to post by Hanslune
 


O.k. maybe bronze is not the right resource. But here is my real question: Did empires happen in the bronze age because of some new capability that made imperialism less costly or did empires happen because they became more necessary (e.g. protecting trade routes to new strategic resources)?


Why did empire happen?

imho

Because city states happened, and were organized to control agricultural irrigation. It was found that others were a military threat and the easiest way to end the threat was to conquer them - which was found to add benefits to the conqueror in the way of security and tribute plus ego enhancement for the King


O.k. that sounds like a good answer to me. Rivers were the strategic resource instead of bronze. They probably were important transportation infrastructure in addition to being water sources.

I suppose like most things empires evolved gradually with each stage creating new capabilities and new necessities to make the next stage happen.



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 12:59 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
reply to post by Hanslune
 

I think, with regard to Mesopotamia, we can detect different stages.
First, competition with neighbouring states about irrigation rights, which ends up as a unification process.
Then fighting off raiders from less settled areas, like the hills to east and north, and invading their home territories in an attempt to subdue them.
Then, later, the drive north-west and west for sources of metal etc, as mentioned in the OP, and this is developed in the Bronze age.



Those stages make sense to me. The only thing I question now is the last stage, because Hanslune says metal was available in many locations, but the Akkadian empire seems to overlay with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. So maybe the importance of Anatolian mines was simply that they lay at the end of a convenient river transportation route?

edit on 8-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 01:24 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 

The importance of the Tigris and Euphrates is that water means food, and food means population growth. This also means political power, by sheer weight of numbers.

As for metals, Hanslune's map needs to be read carefully. The sources of raw metal are indicated by those oblong ingot-shaped symbols. Compare that with a physical map, and you will see that these are all in the mountains, the Zagros to the east and the highlands to the north. If you're living in the river plains, you need to get your metals from the mountains, by trade or warfare. Collect a few trees, while you're at it.
The coloured areas on that map could be misleading; they are supposed to represent areas where "arsenical bronze" or "tin bronze" (two different kinds of metal alloy) were made up and used. They are not the source areas of the raw metal.

That second map, of the Assyrian empire, illustrates what we are saying very well, if you compare it with a physical map that shows highlands and lowlands. It is based on Assyria, which is in the river plains. Look at the map, and you will see how the Assyrians expanded north (to the mountains), north-west (to the mountains), to the west (trade-route connection with the Mediterranean, and the Lebanon mountains), and to the south-west (trade-route down to Egypt and Arabia).


edit on 8-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 02:21 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Thanks I was missing some of those details about the ore map.

Do you think imperialism was profitable or simply an unpleasant security expense made necessary by the resource demands of larger cities?

(I would say something in response to what you wrote, but unfortunately I think I'm not getting what either one of you is saying exactly. I thought I understood, but I think I must be misunderstanding some of the points. I'm not trying to disagree with your points; I'm just confused because some things take a while to soak in to my brain.)



edit on 8-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)

edit on 8-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 02:40 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 

I think it was a mixture.
Unpleasant security measure in the first instance (need to get or protect resources), but it became profitable once you controlled access to resources that other people wanted, or controlled their supply routes.



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by cloudyday
(I would say something in response to what you wrote, but unfortunately I think I'm not getting what either one of you is saying exactly.

If I'm explaining my points badly, which is very possible, I won't be upset if you ask me to clarify.
My main theme has been that your insight in the OP hit the nail on the head (once "bronze" was corrected to "raw materials for bronze"), and I've been expanding on that point.


edit on 8-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 04:42 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI

Originally posted by cloudyday
(I would say something in response to what you wrote, but unfortunately I think I'm not getting what either one of you is saying exactly.

If I'm explaining my points badly, which is very possible, I won't be upset if you ask me to clarify.
My main theme has been that your insight in the OP hit the nail on the head (once "bronze" was corrected to "raw materials for bronze"), and I've been expanding on that point.


edit on 8-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)


Thanks. I look at the money the U.S. spends today to further our national interests in every corner of the world, and I think this behavior must have been even more expensive for the Akkadians. Communications and travel across their empire must have been much more difficult than sailing around the world today. And the people must have been barely producing enough to feed themselves so they could not have afforded the same tax burden as modern people.

Of course the Akkadians could loot and enslave the conquered nations, but I suspect they were gentle rulers to minimize the resistance to their rule.

So the Akkadians must have had a practical reason to build their empire. Maybe at least part of the reason was to preserve their access to the raw materials for bronze. I don't know what they used bronze for besides weapons. I suppose the bronze weapons were superior to weapons made from other materials.
edit on 8-3-2012 by cloudyday because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 09:39 PM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 



Yes bronze weapons are superior to other weapons in some areas, bronze armour would also have been effective. Stone and obsidian can be very sharp but ineffectual in cutting armour and is of course brittle and subject to shattering in combat. Bronze weapons were also superior to copper, holding a better edge and of course being stronger. They of course were inferior to the later iron, which had problems of it own, but as soon as they could nations switched to iron.



posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 11:23 PM
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Hello fellow time travelers,
I am brand new to this type thing but just wanted to mention that if I am not mistaken --- Bronze would have developed in China originally.
Would that make a difference?



posted on Mar, 9 2012 @ 01:06 AM
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reply to post by longjohnbritches
 


Who did what when is a matter of some debate

However

Paper on the development of Bronze metallurgy in East Asia



posted on Mar, 9 2012 @ 09:50 AM
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Thanks for the info,
The reason I mentioned China is because there is recent info that the use of alcohol may have developed in China along with the developement of argiculture.
So, along with the developement of ceramics and metallurgy you have the ingredients for war and imperialism.
Colonialism/Imperialism via a bottle of booze. Human modernity at it's finest.



posted on Mar, 9 2012 @ 12:13 PM
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reply to post by longjohnbritches
 


Not to forget a human liking for loot and raiding, larger populations allowed this to be done on a vastly larger scale. I say this, as one of the noticable traits of tribal groups, is to raid one another.



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