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In other regions of Europe the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in Central Europe and the 6th century BC in Northern Europe.
The Near Eastern Iron Age is divided into two subsections, Iron I and Iron II.
Increasingly the Iron Age in Europe is being seen as a part of the Bronze Age collapse in the ancient Near East, in ancient India (with the post-Rigvedic Vedic civilization), ancient Iran, and ancient Greece (with the Greek Dark Ages).
Smelted iron appears sporadically in the archeological record from the middle Bronze Age.
Whilst terrestrial iron is naturally abundant, its high melting point of 1,538 °C (2,800 °F) placed it out of reach of common use until the end of the second millennium BC.
There is evidence, however, of strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves later into Iron I the culture begins to diverge more significantly from that of the late 2nd millennium.
Alloys with less carbon than this, such as wrought iron, cannot be heat treated to a significant degree and will consequently be of low hardness, whilst a higher carbon content creates an extremely hard but brittle material that cannot be annealed, tempered, or otherwise softened.