When did Italy’s bronze age start?
Did Italian people use a lot of bronze?
But bronze was very expensive. Smiths make bronze from copper and tin, and there is no tin in Italy. To get tin, you had to travel to England or to West Asia. So most people still used stone, wood, or bone tools. Only rich people had things made of bronze.
Small independent towns
In the Bronze Age, Italy had a lot of small independent towns, which sometimes formed themselves into leagues to fight together (as the Greeks said they had for the Trojan War about the same time), and sometimes did not. People grew barley and millet to eat, with chickpeas and lentils, onions and garlic. They started to grow olives and grapes to make olive oil and wine.
Around 2000 BC Italy, like Greece and Germany, was probably invaded by Indo-Europeans coming from Central Asia. Probably they left home because of a long drought – no rain – looking for a better place to live. Or they may have been looking for salt mines, to salt the meat from their cattle and pigs.
The language these invaders spoke gradually became the languages of Italy. One of these languages was Latin. But there were also others. We call the some of the other Italian languages Oscan and Sabine. Nobody speaks them anymore.
Trade with Bronze Age Greece
By about 1500 BC, almost a thousand years after the beginning of the Bronze Age, Italians were trading with Bronze Age people from Mycenaean Greece. A fair amount of Mycenaean pottery made it to Italy. Probably the Greeks sold the Italians other things, too. They might have sold the Italians wine, olive oil, medicine, and linen clothing. The Italians sold things to the Greeks, too – probably mainly wood and enslaved people. (These things and people are harder for archaeologists to find traces of, so we aren’t sure.)
Classical Rome, by John Clare (1993). For kids, the whole political history from beginning to end.
Oxford First Ancient History, by Roy Burrell (reissued 1997). Easy reading. It skips around a lot, not trying to tell everything, just highlights.
The Romans: From Village to Empire, by Mary Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, and Richard Talbert (2004). Okay, it’s a little dry, but it is up to date and has all the facts you could want.
The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC), by Tim Cornell (1995). A little more specialized.