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The History Of Metals

Spanning as far back as 6000 BC, when gold was first discovered and used to create valuable jewellery, man’s relationship with metal has had a significant impact on the way societies have behaved, traded, hunted and advanced. In fact, these early periods were so greatly influenced by the discovery and use of metal that history books now commonly refer to them as the metal ages, or by their individual classes: the copper age, bronze age and iron age. This article is going to explore how man’s relationship with metal has developed over time. So buckle up, as we take you on a trip back thousands of years into the past.

The History of Humans Using Metals

Stone Age

To learn about the impact of the discovery of metal in society, we need to first look at how civilisation sufficed without metal. The stone age was an extremely broad prehistoric period in which stone was the primary source of all tools. Despite historians claiming the stone age lasted around for a whopping 2.5 million years, there was little societal progression in this time. It was only once humans discovered smelting and the application of different metals did progress start to truly excel.

Copper Age

Despite the copper age being so widely known as the first of the metal age trio, gold had already been used for around three thousand years prior. The precious metal was widely sought after due to its scarcity, value and aesthetic. Prehistoric man would fashion it into jewellery and use it as a valuable asset as part of a primitive economy.

Copper, however, is easy to work into various shapes and was much stronger than gold. Thus, humans widely started using copper around 3200 BC, and society soon amassed an array of practical benefits. More comprehensive tools were made, which greatly increased developments in agriculture and construction. Weaponry was fashioned from copper, making hunting easier, but also shifting societies into an era of protection resources. This gave rise to ‘warriors’: specialists who protected villages and allowed them to prosper.

Bronze Age

The bronze age started after it was discovered that mixing two metals together  — namely copper and tin — would create a material tougher than either of its individual parts. Thus rose the bronze age in 2100 BC. Tools and weaponry developed even further, but perhaps the two biggest achievements stemming from the bronze age were the creation of writing implements and the wheel. These developments paved the way for two vitally important industries: writing and transport.

Iron Age

The iron age, beginning at around 700 BC, saw the gradual introduction of iron in society. Iron was tougher than bronze and could be fashioned into finer objects more easily. The latter point is vitally important to the widespread use of iron; bronze manufacturing and casting required specialised skills, whereas iron could be created much more easily, allowing the manufacturing and trading of iron to be accomplished by a much larger pool of people.

In addition, iron made for stronger and more robust weaponry and construction. Tools were now much cheaper, lighter and stronger than their bronze counterparts. Iron also strengthened ploughs and made them more efficient, greatly boosting the agriculture industry.

Modern Age

Today, some two millennia later, metal continues to play a vital role in our lives.

We wake up — in our houses made of steel frames. We turn off our copper alarm clock and head downstairs to make breakfast using a cast iron pan. We then head to our cars, comprised of a number of different metals — from steel to aluminium to iron to titanium — and head to work to start the day.

Here we can see, before the day has even really truly begun, we’ve used a huge amount of different metals, and we rely upon these to operate our everyday lives. On a wider scale, metal is used across almost every industry and for almost every sector, including military, electronics and transport. There are now 95 discovered metals, and the various properties that comprise each of these 95 metals helps — and will continue to help — societies to function, innovate and flourish.

Here at Hill Metal Recycling, we’re passionate about metals. We understand that metals help the world to go round, which is why we’re dedicated to recycling as much as possible for the good of mankind and the environment.

Our aim is to make selling scrap metal as easy as possible for our customers. Our scrap metal collection and 24-hour service is a testament to this, as is our popular same-day payment option. If you’d like to enquire further, give our friendly team a call today.