Who Discovered Copper?
Posted In: Chemical Elements.
Copper has the distinction of being the first metal ever discovered and used by man. This, of course, is extrapolated from evidential findings by archaeologists as well as historians. There are, however, some scientists who will argue that gold was in use before copper. The point is, copper is one of the “metals of antiquity”, and can’t be attributed to any one group of people, let alone a single individual.
Copper has an atomic mass of 63.546 and an atomic number of 29.
You can find them everywhere
It has been found in several parts of the world, with the oldest copper items found in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. Like many other elements that are found in a plethora of geographic loci, copper was mined and used individually by different groups of people throughout the world at approximately the same time.
It is easy to find them
Copper, like gold, is found in its isolated form, making it easier to “discover”, thus the reasonable assumption that this useful element was advantageous to all people who populated the earth, despite geography, around the beginning of the Neolithic Period, circa 7500 B.C.
About the metal
Copper is very malleable and ductile, making it useful for conducting heat via modern wiring to ancient cookware as well as weaponry. The malleability of copper, however, makes it more useful as part of an alloy, like bronze and brass. Bronze is a combination of copper and tin, while brass is comprised of copper and zinc. Historically, bronze was in use a few thousand years before the Greeks began using brass as a supplement to bronze during the time of the Roman Empire’s existence.
Conducts electricity well
As far as modern technology is concerned, copper is an excellent conductive metal when it comes to electricity, so most wiring consists of copper, as it can be stretched very thin due to its malleability, enabling the production of small, intricate electronic devices that are in vogue today. Besides being used for its functionality, copper is also a popular choice when it comes to high-end household items such as copper sinks, countertops and other items of that ilk. Archeologically speaking, copper has been used in roofing for several hundred years; this is because of its appealing green patina resulting from oxidation, as well as its resistance to corrosion as it gets older, helping structures withstand dry rot as well as other water damage.
Its important for life as well
Copper plays an important role in biological systems as well. Because of its nature to be mined as its an isolated element, it has been the subject of scientific study somewhat longer than other elements that had to be “discovered” (read: isolated from any contaminants). Copper is a biological necessity for animal and plant systems because of its role in iron uptake as well as oxygen transport throughout the system in question. Copper metabolism is an intricate biological cycle, where low levels of copper can cause anemia-like problems. Wilson’s disease, an inborn metabolic error, opposite of low levels of copper, causes the liver to store copper intakes instead of using what is needed and excreting it via the bile. This disease can be fatal if not diagnosed early and properly treated with diet and medication.
Copper is useful
Copper, like all ubiquitous elements, can be found to be part of nearly every aspect of life. One of the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically the Copper Scroll, was also written on a copper plate. Biological functions, archeological functions and electronic functions are its main arenas, but if one considers these three functions carefully, it can be concluded that nearly every aspect of life fits in one of the three.
More on Copper: Facts about Copper.