In the eastern Mediterranean region in the Bronze Age there were a number of elite controlled, complex societies that through cultural activities and trade and international agreements, participated in a regional exchange economy. In the transition to Iron Age there was a confusing period with wars, migrations and the collapse of most of the elite societies,. At this time, iron technology had already spread to some parts of the region. When the regional economy collapsed in c. 1200 BC it created the opportunity for low-level markets to expand, and alchemists to develop their activities and produce more iron tools, jewellery and weapons. In addition, a new class of entrepreneurs arose, including shipowners who transported and marketed scrap metals and various small and large items in ports and settlements in the region. People's preferences for iron objects grew in the aftermath of the collapse, where a growth in low-level markets made it possible for people to exchange wares more freely. Iron was not seen as poorer than bronze, because people's perception of it was of a preferential metal, based on their beliefs and attitudes. This was the precursor of the Iron Age, which probably didn't achieve Snodgrass's stage 3 until 2-3 centuries later. There followed a period of strong economic growth in the region.