History tells that people have formed the very backbone of human civilization and modern life with iron and steel. The Hittites, who were able to artificially refine iron for the first time in human history, defeated the bronze-wielding Egyptians at the Battle of Kadesh. The steel technology enabled the Hittites torapidly expand their empire to match the Egyptians in the competition for regional hegemony around the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Romans held hegemony over the Mediterranean by taking advantage of the superiority of their iron-clad troops, which defeated their enemies across the Mediterranean and all the way to Britain. However, the military advantage provided by the steel stirrups allowed the Huns to drive westward, which gave a rise to an end tothe Western Roman Empire.
Steel has also changed human history by influencing our thoughts and philosophy. First of all, steel enriched Confucian philosophy in ancient China. Increased use of farming tools made of steel greatly boosted agricultural productivity and the authority of kings or rulers was weakened with the rise of a new social class. It was inevitable for the royal class to employ a new philosophy, such as Confucianism, to protect their power. In the West, as improved steelmaking techniques increased steel supplies, production methods evolved from workshop-based to factory-based mass production which led to the emergence of industrial capitalism supported by new theories, particularly from the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith.
There are multitude of ways that iron and steel have ensured the survival of humanity and other living creatures, as well as shaped our modern lifestyle and culture. Recalling the magnetic field created by the core of iron within the Earth, also known as the Van Allen Belt, it protects people from lethal solar winds.There are diverse applications of steel that ensure safe and convenient living: transportation, pipelines, bridges, transformers, musical instruments, and so much more. Steel technology has also been a major contributor to extending human longevity. For instance, steel pipes have replaced copper to conveyclean water.
Improved steel technology is continuously adopted in steel products for safer and cleaner use in our water systems, oil and gas pipelines, and electricity transmission. At the same time, specialized steel products have become the core materials for renewable energy production such as solar, wind, and tidal power generation. In addition, strong and reinforced steel is fundamental in optimizing the use of urban space through super-towers and other skyscrapers,and also for disaster prevention in the form of tsunami protection walls. Steel products continue to foster exciting innovations in critical areas such as mitigating the impact of global warming, helping the disabled recover mobility, and improving the protective qualities of military equipment. The current civilization has been blessed with the fruits of rapid industrialization and emergence of IT technology. Nevertheless, the Age of Steel is an ongoing phase as steel is the enabler of such remarkable advances.