What Was The First Metal Used By Humans?

A copper smelter.
A copper smelter.

One cannot accurately describe the history of man without mentioning metals. In fact, it was common for historians to use metals prevalent during certain historic times to describe those periods. For instance, there existed the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age among others. Copper is one of those metals that man started using very early. As a matter of fact, copper was the first metal that man discovered in 9000 BCE. The other metals used in pre-historic times were gold, silver, tin, lead, and iron.

The Chemical Properties Of Copper

Copper is a chemical element which is chemically referred to as Cuprum. Its chemical symbol is Cu. Cuprum is a Latin word which means “from the island of Cyprus.” It is a reddish-brown metal by color. Copper has an atomic weight of 63.546. It belongs to group 11 and period four on the periodic table. Its atomic number is 29. Copper is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Other properties include its malleability and ductility. A malleable metal is one which can easily be stretched into various shapes.

Uses Of Copper In Ancient Times

During the pre-historic era, man used copper to make tools, implements, and weapons. Archaeological evidence indicates that 5,000-6,000 years ago the Mesopotamians also used copper. They displayed skill in harnessing and extracting the metal. However, since they did not have the current knowledge on metallurgy, Mesopotamians only enjoyed using the metal for its aesthetic value. Hence, like silver and gold, they used copper to make ornaments and decorative items. On the other hand, among the Egyptians, copper was a sacred metal. They believed that it gave magical powers to persons who wore it.

Besides using copper to make artifacts, ancient civilizations also used copper for medical purposes. Around 2400-1500 BC, ancient Egyptians used copper to heal wounds and sterilize water. In addition, copper eased pain caused by headaches. It was also effective medicine for burns and itching. Among the Indians, copper was part of the surgical instruments used by doctors.

Benefits Of Copper Metal Today

Copper occurs naturally in the oceans, earth's crust, lakes, and rivers. Its benefits in today’s fast-changing global world cannot be underestimated. One will find bits of copper metal in smart phones, computer chips, large industrial motors, digital cameras, and industrial transformers. Furthermore, copper is also used in heating systems, electrical, and electronic equipments. The copper element is also useful as part of people’s diets. Foods that contain copper include lentils, meat, nuts, barley, almonds, liver, beets, and avocados among others. Some of the health benefits of copper to humans include curing arthritis, growth, regulation of melanin production, prevents premature aging, brain stimulation, increase in energy production, and helping in absorption of iron and sugar among others. Hence, like in the past, copper is still beneficial to man as medicine to improve their health.


More in Society