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Extraction of Metals

The History of Metals.

Metals have been used by people for many thousands of years.
Gold and silver, found as native metal, were used
both as jewellery and as a status symbol - nothing new there.
These metals were known in the Stone Age
but gold and silver are too soft to be used as tools.

The first really useful metal to be discovered was bronze.
This began the Bronze Age.
Bronze was used extensively for tools and weapons
in Asia and Africa from 4,500 B.C. (6,500 years ago)
and in Britain from 2,000 B.C. (4,000 years ago).
News of the new material traveled slowly in those days (no internet)
and it took the Brits 2,500 years to get the message.

Bronze is not an element (like gold and silver)
but an alloy (metal mixture) of copper and tin. Ores of
both copper and tin are easily reduced by heating with carbon.
This would have occurred accidentally as people lit wood fires
in places where mixtures of tin ore and copper ore existed.
The hot burnt wood (carbon) would have reduced the ores
to a mixture of copper and tin metal, which is bronze
(continued on the next page).

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