-6.THE IRON AGE In a sense, the Iron Age has never ended. The most useful of metals, either in its elemental form or converted to alloys such as steel, iron is still used in products too numerous to count. The ancients knew of iron early, but it posed a problem: when it hardened, it was very brittle and would shatter easily. Then, sometime after 1400 BC, as a solution to this problem, the Hittites, a people of Anatolia, devised a new method of smelting iron, in which carbon was added to the molten metal. About 200 years later when the Hittite Empire came to an end, the knowledge of iron smelting spread throughout the ancient Middle East. Because iron ore was far more abundant than the ores of tin and copper, which were used to make bronze, iron tools and weapons soon could be found all over the civilised world. The abundance of iron made it possible to manufacture shields, helmets, and armour along with the standard weapons. The Iron Age brought with it the age of the foot soldier, and the time of chariot warfare soon passed. The era of infantry had begun.
The passage emphasises that iron ------ .
is more useful than all metals except steel
is most valuable in its elemental form
isn't used as much these days as it was
is one of the most expensive metals
can be used in a variety of forms
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