Smelted iron in the form of meteoritic particles were valued and used in ancient times as adornment. Sometime before 1600BC the technology required to smelt iron ore was developed within the Hittite lands in northern Anatolia (Turkey). With the downfall of the Hittite Empire, circa 1100BC, the knowledge spread, and iron soon replaced bronze for tools and weapons. Whilst the technology is more difficult, iron ore is far more abundant in the earth.
In sub-Saharan Africa, iron proceeded directly from stone, as it arrived at about the same time as bronze. In the New World iron was introduced by the European invaders in the 15th to 17th centuries AD.
Unlike previous “ages” the Iron Age as a term does not refer to the full period of reliance on iron. The description of Britain as “Iron Age” ends with the Roman invasion in the first century AD. In much of the rest of Europe the great migrations of the 4th and 5th centuries are considered the end of the “Iron Age". The ancient cultures of Asia are not normally referred to as having an Iron Age.