In the early 1800s, Christian Thomsen devised a three-age system to describe ancient societies’ stages of progress — the last of these ages was the iron age. Put simply, the times of these eras differed from civilization to civilization depending on the development of use of metals. The approximate dates range as follows:
- Stone Age: 9300 – 3300 BCE
- Bronze Age: 3300 – 1200 BCE
- Iron Age: 1200 – 200 BCE
The system is too simple but commonly used. I first read about the classification method after hearing Atheists criticize Christianity for being based on an “Iron Age religion”. When I read a bit, I found that many religions had Iron Age origins. The diagram above shows Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Chinese scriptures from the Iron Age.
The Iron Age treatment of women, across cultures, was abominable. See this Religious Tolerance site for some idea of how the Jewish Bible discusses women. Christian apologists often defend or rationalize the Bible saying that it is misunderstood and that the Bible shows excellent treatment of women. Likewise, Muslim apologists justy their treatment of women.
Well today, I read this fun article where an Indian defends the treatment of women in the Hindu Stone Age scripture called the Mahabharata. Wow, they even defend the Mahabharata. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Mahabharata is a fantastic epic and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to explore a radically different Iron Age spirituality. But like other Iron Age religions, the Mahabharata illustrates clearly the male domination at those times. But I confess that as for the women issues, the culture classification issues and more, I am not qualified to discuss them. But one thing seems certain to me, there are always folks ready to protect the integrity of their sanctified ancient cultures. Whether there is truth there or not, I suspect the reflex to protect comes from the exact same place.