The Forgotten Makers of Civilization or the Khalibs, the Blacksmith Nation

We are still living in the Iron Age. Although, perhaps, it would be more accurate to call our epoch the "steel" age, not the iron age, because iron itself is not a metal of very high quality and strongly inferior to bronze and could not replace it in any way.

It is necessary to say that people knew iron long enough. Products of meteoritic iron are known from IV millennium BC. e. and, by the way, the quality is quite steel. However, they were very few. Well how many meteorites fall there and they still have to be found.

Around the beginning of II millennium BC people mastered the production of iron from ore, but it is not yet the iron age. Raw iron is still a soft and unstable metal, inferior in every way to bronze. But things changed radically when people at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 1st millennium mastered the steel production and methods of hardening iron. This is the beginning of the Iron Age.

So where did it happen and who was the main culprit? In fact, there is only one version, though with different interpretations.


Here everything is quite obvious. According to researches of historians and archaeologists quite quickly managed to localize the territory of the first development of iron - West Asia and the Middle East.

Moreover with the accumulation of material it was possible to further narrow the search area to the southeastern Black Sea region and the southern Caucasus. However, many different peoples lived there at the beginning of the Iron Age.

The first candidates were, of course, the Hittites. It was they who supplied iron all over the Middle East and Western Asia and it is in their archives that the first mentions of crystalline iron are found. However, this version quickly collapsed. Iron was known in these lands even before the Hittites came. And the merit of the Hittites is only in the popularization and spread of this metal.

But who then? 

"The clatter of high anvils."

This is a verse from the Roman poet Rufus Festus Avienus, written in the IV century AD, which is considered the last mention of the people who created steel and in full sounds like this: "The clatter of high anvils Halibos".

It is this people, according to ancient Greek sources, was the creator of new technologies. By the way, the name of iron in Greek - Halibas - comes from the name of this people. However, the Russian "iron" as well.

The ancient Greeks called the place of residence of these people in the southeastern Black Sea region, between Cappadocia and Armenia.

Geologists and archaeologists fully confirm the version of the origin of the technology of steel production from this region. So it is clear that some Khalibs living on the southeast coast of the Black Sea started to make steel.

But who were they. This people had no written language and there is no reliable data even on what language they spoke. And people were small and apparently not numerous. There is even a hypothesis that the Halibs were not a people, but a caste of craftsmen and metallurgists.

Can you imagine what space for various fantasies and opportunities to attribute all these achievements to the representatives of different modern nations? Lots of peoples claim to the legacy of the Khalibs, the "alternative" fantasies are very widespread now.

But serious science is much more cautious, and today says only that Halibs spoke a language of the Hurrite-Urartian language group and were apparently related to the people who created the states of Mitanni and Urartu.

However, the Halibs disappeared by the end of the first millennium B.C. and melted into the neighbouring peoples, mostly among Georgians and, to a lesser extent, Armenians.

But this is not important. The main thing is that this people gave humanity one of the pillars of civilization, the metallurgy of iron. And what language they spoke... what the hell does it matter.

These are the Khalibs, whose "clatter of high anvils" has passed through the millennia.


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