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Metals of antiquity

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There are 86 different kinds of metals that are known at this point in time. Most important metals were discovered before the 19th century. Of the 24 metals that were known before the 19th century, 12 of them were found in the 18th century. This means that all of the other 12 elemental metals known, were elements that had been discovered before the 17th century ended. Arsenic, antimony, zinc, and bismuth were discovered during the 1300s and 1400s, however in the 1600s platinum was established as a metal. The last of the 12 known metals established before the 19th century are in a special category called the Metals of Antiquity of special interest in archeology. Among these metals are Gold, Copper, Silver, Lead, Tin, smelted Iron, and Mercury.

Gold

Main Article: Gold
Gold nuggets.
Egyptian gold ring from the 19th dynasty.

Gold is considered a precious metal due to its extreme rarity. Because of its rare qualities, gold is frequently used in expensive jewelry and found in rare artifacts.[1] Gold is often also frequently used as a currency. you can see gold in 4 forms, in nuggets, grains, rocks and in alluvial deposits.[2] gold is a very dense metal causing it to be very heavy. Au is the symbol for gold, which stands for Aurum, which in Latin means “shining dawn.” Gold can be found in two different kinds of deposits. Lode deposits, usually found in very solid rocks which are mined through the normal routines used in mining placer deposits, which occur less often and usually look like gravel which can be found in the beds of streams. The placer deposits are simply results of lode deposits eroding away. The fact that gold is not combined with other elements and metals in nature, goldsmiths in the early days would collect massive numbers of gold nuggets, and then weld them together using hammering. Because of its rare qualities and value, gold is one of the most important metals to mankind today.[3]

Copper

Main Article: Copper
a native copper nugget.

Copper can be considered more useful or possible even more important than gold considering that copper was originally used to help make tools. Weapons and other implements were constantly made from copper. Between 4000 and 6000 BC copper made its leap to being used in modern day life. Copper’s symbol is Cu, signifying the latin word cuprum which meant, from the island of Cyprus. it gets this name because during the reign of the Romans, copper was mined nearly exclusively from the island of Cyprus. [4]Generally copper would be hammered and chipped away at, just as bones or stones would be, however when copper is hammered it becomes very brittle and easily breakable. Copper is a reddish colored, easily molded, and conducts electricity well. many places in the world use copper for wiring due to its excellent and balanced conductivity.[5] Sulfide ores originate most of the worlds copper. [6]

Lead

Main Article: Lead
a sample of lead ore.

Another important metal is lead. It is not found in nature like copper and gold, however lead sulfate (galena) was used by ancient Egyptians as make ups, and other bodily paintings. Lead sulfate was a glittery metal, and therefore, many people liked using it in early metal work. lead is a very heavy metal and is actually quite toxic.[7] Lead can actually be quite dangerous there have been reports of those who have worked around lead coming up with reproductive problems such as still births, premature labor, and newborns with weight or neurological issues. [8] Lead’s melting point is 327 degrees Celsius. It could easily be melted in a campfire and collected to separate from other metals. Lead makes amazing piping material because of its malleable qualities as well as its non-corrosiveness. [9]

Silver

Romans used silver to create crude silver coins for currency
Main Article: Silver
the mineral silver

Silver is another interesting metal. It can be found and taken from nature, however it is not often that it can be found. Like gold, it is a very rare metal, not to the extreme gold is, but still rare nonetheless. Silver is more chemically active than any of the other noble metals, and just as it is more active, it is a better [[conductor] of thermal and electrical energy than any other metal known. [10] When it is pure, silver has the whitest color, best reflectivity with the eyes, and highest conductivity [11] It is not quite as hard as gold, but also softer than copper. Because of its softness, early metalworkers would make bracelets, earrings and other jewelry out of silver. People would then wear this jewelry in order to show off wealth. [12]

Tin

Main Article: Tin
Sample of tin ore

Tin, a metal that is almost never found in a pure state, is commonly used and welded with copper in order to strengthen the quality of the objects being produced. Tin is made up of only a few stable isotopes. there are only 9 isotopes out of 27 isotopes that it has are stable. An interesting fact about tin is that because of its highly crystalline structure, when a bar of tin is bent, one can hear a "tin cry". [13] tin is not easily oxidized when introduced to the air, and has a high resistance level to corrosion by other elements. [14] The symbol for tin is Sn from the latin word stannum. [15]

Mercury

Mercury is one of the five metals that is a liquid at or close to room temperature
Mercury in its solid form
Main Article: Mercury

Mercury has been found in tombs that can be traced back as far as 1500 or 1600 BC. A Roman named Pliny realized it was poisonous and created ways of purifying it by pressing it through leather. Mercury has another name that it goes by, which is quicksilver. Unlike most other metals, at room temperature, mercury is in liquid form. It is used in thermometers, barometers, and a few other weather sensing pieces of technology. [16]Even though mercury is used in these items, many of them are being banned due to the fact that the glass casing holding the mercury might break and the mercury could then become a major hazard due to its toxicity. [17] Although it can be found in a native state, it is more commonly found in ores of other metals. Distillation is the process of separating mercury, due to the fact that it is a liquid metal. Mercury has the ability to dissolve silver and gold. Because of the places in which it was found, many people believe that it was a metal that in very early years, was worshiped by the early Egyptians. The symbol for mercury is Hg, for hydragyrum, meaning liquid silver. [18]

Iron

Main Article: Iron
The iron in these rocks makes the river turn red

Iron, the last of the metals of antiquity, can be found in small particles in meteors. It is made up of about 6-8% nickel. Evidence found by archeologists suggests that iron has been in common use by people for about 5000 years. It is basically the least expensive and most widely used metal of all. The earth's crust is composed of about 5.6% iron, and almost all of the earths core is composed of iron. [19] It was widely used by the Egyptians, just as gold and silver, as beads and other such ornaments. Iron is famous for being one of the last elements discovered to have been produced by stellar nucleosynthesis. [20] Weapons that were made from iron were some of the greatest weapons during the older period, which was driven by warfare. Farming was also greatly affected by the discovery and implementation of iron. Iron’s symbol is Fe, originating from the word Ferrum. [21]

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