Stone Age vs. Copper Age vs. Bronze Age

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Difference between Stone Age, Copper Age and Bronze Age

In the study of how the world as it is came to be, scientist Christian Thomsen developed the three-age system to categorize and explain periods of human pre-history. The system came up with consecutive periods in time. Three periods, named after the materials and technology used then to create tools for living are the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The Copper Age is just as popular as these three, but is considered a transitional period between the New Stone Age (the latter part of Stone Age) and the Bronze Age.

Copper Age
Bronze Age


The Stone Age saw the predominance of stones as materials for tool-making. Humans during this age used different types of stones for various tools. Basalt and sandstone were used for ground stone tools and flint were shaped and sharpened to make weapons and cutting tools. Aside from stones, humans also used deer antlers and bones as well as clay for pottery, particularly during the latter part of the era. The Stone Age is further divided into three different ages: The Old Stone Age (Paleolithic), The Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic) and The New Stone Age which is also known as the Neolithic period


The Copper Age was a transitional era after the Stone Age and before the Bronze Age. This is primarily because humans in the Copper Age began to use coincide the use of their stone tools with early metal tools. The Copper Age did not last very long, and the metal Copper was not used widely by humans. Thus, it was not enough to be part of the 3-Age System.

The Bronze Age saw the most advanced of metal tools. Humans in this era learned how to melt metals such as copper and tin from ores and were thus able to create more sophisticated weapons and tools. The first bronze was the naturally occurring alloy arsenical bronze. Humans eventually learned during this age how to produce tin bronze by smelting tin and adding it to molten copper.


Stone Age humans were nomadic. They lived in caves and huts, gathered edible plants and were mostly hunters. Copper Age humans lived in farmsteads and formed tribes. Bronze Age humans learned to improve tribes into states and began to form cities.


Humans who lived in the Stone Age hunted animals for their meat, skin, bones and antlers. They gathered fruit from plants and trees. Copper Age humans learned how to plant (agriculture), raise animals (domestication) and fish. Bronze Age saw how humans developed more sophisticated agriculture. They learned how to create crafts, breed cattle, and best of all, trade within and outside of their communities.


  • Stone Age and Bronze Age were part of the 3-Age System based on materials used for tool-making. Copper Age was a transitional period between them.
  • Stone Age humans used stones to make tools. Copper Age humans used copper and alloys. Bronze Age humans developed Bronze alloys for better tools and weapons.
  • Stone Age humans were nomadic gatherers and hunters. Copper Age humans began settling down. Bronze Age formed large communities and cities.

Which age came first?
  • Stone Age
  • Copper Age
  • Bronze Age

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • Julie wrote on May 2010

The "Ages" are used to describe what the drive force of the technology used. After the Iron Age, the driving forces were social instead of metal working. The Age of Enlightenment/Age of Reason is an example of this. Following this was the Industrial Age in which the economies shifted from rural production focused to urban production dominated. It was within the Industrial Age that electricity was produced readily and cheap enough to produce aluminum on a large scale.

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