How far was New World from Iron Age?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by KaiserWilhelm, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. KaiserWilhelm Well-Known Member

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    In 1492, how far was the New World from its own Iron Age? Was it millennia off, or could it be expected within a few hundred years in the absence of European contact?
     
  2. Jared first one to PM me gets a bonus chapter of LoRaG

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    In 1492? About 290km (Greenland to Iceland).
     
  3. Alexander Helios Pre-Columbian Satan

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    Well we can't really determine an exact answer to this question. Historically Iron Ages haven't been linear (though I'd also argue that historical technological advancements aren't either). It's a matter of a society that has experience with metallurgy finding iron deposits and utilizing it on a large scale. So I'd say you'd have a lot of leeway in finding an answer.
     
  4. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    The term Iron Age is somewhat irrelevant as I understand whence applied to Pre-Columbian American cultures. They did not conceive of these sorts of military progressions. The major states in Mesoamerica had used relatively similar weaponry, as I take it for quite some time by 1492. This is ultimately not too dissimilar to the case in the West. From the days of Sargon, only progressive change had occurred over the period of 1700 years, the metal working was often not the defining factors or changes. It was rather, acquisitions such as advancements in management, new types of equipment, the acquisition of horses/camels, better wheels, political centralization of powers and so forth.
     
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  5. KaiserWilhelm Well-Known Member

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    Well, maybe I’ll restate: what were the advancements needed to get to an Iron Age, and what’s the soonest it could reasonably happen?
     
  6. JSchafer Banned

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    Never. They lacked the push to do it such as threatening empires and invasions.
     
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  7. SavoyTruffle I am the modren man

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    Is this where I point out that contrary to video games, real life did not (and does not) have a tech tree where you have to achieve X technologies to be at a certain level of arbitrarily determined advancement?

    The Aztecs managed to create a tribute-focused empire without even metal weapons. The Inca created one of the largest empires ever in terms of land area even without advanced metallurgy.
     
  8. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    W

    People used iron for hundreds of years in the Old World, as an inferior alternative to bronze, until someone figured out how to work it properly.

    So, based on that and based on the fact that bronze was only just getting a toehold in the Americas in 1492, you might well expect it to take a thousand years or more.

    OTOH, even bad, spongy steel might be better for many things than copper (even if not better than bronze), so some lucky copper smith, maybe exiled away from any known ones, lucks into iron working. That could have happened a thousand years BEFORE 1493, although iOTL it didn't.

    So... Pick any time in a several thousand year window.
     
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  9. snerfuplz Liveral Fascist

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    I have heard the theory that it was the collapse of ancient trading networks that helped bring about widespread iron use as while iron is not as durable as bronze it is more common in the Old World. On the other hand the New World cultures did work bronze regularly it just wasn't adapted into weapons
     
  10. Alexander Helios Pre-Columbian Satan

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    Are you suggesting that empires and warfare didn't exist in the New World? Cause it's quite the contrary, in fact those things are usually seen as one of the defining traits of Pre-Columbian civilizations (at least in popular culture, anyways). Have you heard of the Aztecs by any chance?
     
  11. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    The Assyrians were some of the forerunners of iron. However, this is not what gave them their edge. Their edge was gained by the Assyrians introducing massed cavalry, standardized systems of war, frequent war waging nobility and levies, camels for long distance baggage trains and improved management. Assyrian forces at the war in Biai also showed their novel skill by using one of the earliest masses heavy cavalry charges that did not use chariots.

    This was certainly more a proponent of successful Iron Age empires, than simply the creation of iron.
     
  12. JSchafer Banned

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    Tribal warfare is hardly comparable to warfare existent in the old world. And so it was for 10K years without much change.
     
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  13. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    How do you define tribal warfare? It should be noted, the Xiongnu were a tribalistic power, as was the Arsacid, Sassanid, Urartian and so forth. They all were more than a match at times for the greatest of bureaucratic states.
     
  14. JSchafer Banned

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    By no desire to establish permanent territorial rule, by the main purpose of the warfare being raiding or hunting ground expansion. Sassanids didn’t limit themselves to stealing sheep they established a permanent foothold and an empire. Raiding for food or slaves is no basis for it.

    But I also missed an important part and that is competition. There were empires in America but they were always without equal. No real competitor to spite technological advantage. Why develop rifles and gunpowder when you have the greatest force of elite knights in the world that no army can challenge.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  15. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    The reasoning behind most early Sassanid invasions, and Iron Age Mid Eastern states, were to gain loot and pillage. Sassanid and Arsacid era powers had no intent to rule the Roman Empire's Eastern lands at least until the 5th century. They had the goals of invading as frequently as possible for the following reasons:

    1. Acquire victories to gain glory and legitimacy for the royalty.

    2. Acquire loot and pillage enemy lands that could then be taken and distributed among the nobles and the populace so as to increase royal legitimacy. Loot including gold, silver, any precious gems, slaves, cattle of all kinds, crops of food, etc...

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    Likewise, the Assyrian war making process in the Iron Age and the Bronze Age was not always to acquire territorial acquisitions. The Assyrian king would launch campaigns every year or two with the intention of 'culling' and pillaging enemies. This culling included putting villages to torch, destroying farmlands, capturing slaves and gathering all types of booty other than slaves. The Assyrian Empire in the Early Bronze Age, waged war near constantly for this purpose.

    The Aztecs were similar, they waged war quite frequently, sometimes in a ritualized fashion in order to capture sacrificial objects in the form of slaves. They also waged war for the same reasons as Assyria, for loot, plunder and glory of its kings. There further was the religious reason for war. Aztec Triple-Alliance methods of war and ideology, included a World Conquest motif and a holy war narrative. This came with vast pageantry, which was held within the confines of these wars and the sacrifice of their defeated foes. Assyria did very similar things. (The Aztec Triple-Alliance also waged war to create territorial control and extend hegemony over Mesoamerica)

    There was the case of the Gambulu king, Dunanu, who had joined the Elamite king, Teuman or Teuman-Inshushinak in war against Assyria. Teuman and Dunanu were defeated in the war against Assyria; Teuman committed suicide upon his defeat, while Dunanu and a collection of Arab chiefs were captured. Dunanu was essentially taken in triumph to Ninevah, wherein he was executed (around his neck was tied the head of the king of Elam; they say, when he was executed, that the Assyrian soldiers cut him like a lamb for the ritual sacrifice). His execution was a spectacle, where he was whipped and then cut into pieces as the crowd cheered the spectacle. Meanwhile, the Elamite soldiers, who had been captured, were forced to take the bones of the Elamite kings and their captains and crush them into dust in ritual fashion for the populace (the entire Elamite royal cemetery was taken as loot by the Assyrians). The Qedari-Arab chiefs who joined the Gambulu and Elamites, were ritually castrated before the public, stripped naked and then chained to the front of the city as a watch dog for the city. Essentially, the Assyrians practiced a ritualized destruction of enemies not totally dissimilar to the Aztec human sacrifice 'triumphism.'

    A major point here, is that in the premier Iron Age Empire of the Western World, we have many similarities between it and the Aztec Triple-Alliance.

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    The Aztecs had many competitors.... Many kingdoms and city states abounded across the region and battled one another. Aztec-Triple-Alliance simply became the more preeminent for the relevant period through many reasons. This does not mean that up unto 1492, there was not many competition, both from the northern migrants such as the Chichimeca, but also the sedentary powerful competing Tarascan kingdom and the Zapotec federates forming into a powerful kingdom in this period. Prior to the Aztec, there was the Toltecs who ruled supremely across the region of Mesoamerica and ruled a hegemony up unto the Mayan states in the Yucatan and Guatemala. Prior to the Toltec hegemony, Teotihuacan ruled a hegemony over much of the region in a fashion not dissimilar to the Aztec Triple-Alliance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  16. Alexander Helios Pre-Columbian Satan

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    That's simply wrong, though I see why some people think that, considering that when the Europeans arrived in the New World, they just so happened to arrive during a period of coalescion in the major culture regions (see the Andes). For most of history however, this wasn't the case.

    In fact, the same exact thing (that is, competition sparking innovation in metallurgy) did happen in OTL in the New World. The Tarascans, the "rival" of sorts to the Aztecs, was experimenting with and developed copper based alloys, such as bronze, as a direct result of strengthening their military due to constant fighting with the Aztecs. This would have probably come to something, but unfortunately this was cut short due to colonization. Given time we would have likely seen a gradual switch to metal alloys as opposed to obsidian weapons (and jade too if I'm not mistaken, but don't quote me on that).

    Now that I mention obsidian, that's probably my guess as to why metallurgy wasn't too widespread in Mesoamerica. There's no need to experiment with metalworking when there's already a useful mineral for weaponry that is in abundance and doesn't require smelting.
     
  17. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    I feel like people overlook that metallurgy was actually common place in the 'New World' because it doesn't play into the narrative they've been taught since they were small that the Amerind aboriginals were stone age primitives, a remarkably resilient untruth in need of being put to bed most desperately.
     
  18. liqmadiqkhan Active Member

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    Widespread nomadism in North America was a relatively new phenomena around the time of early European settlements in the modern-day U.S., wasn't it? I've heard that most of the population lived in mound cities and villages before diseases from the Columbian exchange sent them back into nomadism in time for early settlers to show up.
     
  19. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    I'm not equipped to answer your question in depth, I apologize.
     
  20. Thanksforallthefish King of Dolphins

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    I mean, where do you think all those gold artifacts the Spanish were so amazed at came from?