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Who Discovered Iron?

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Iron is a very important element to the sustenance of life because it makes up a large portion of blood cells, so life would cease to exist without it. Without iron, living creatures would be unable to make blood, which is why iron supplements are given to people who are found to be anemic, or lacking in iron. The iron element is found in heme, which is the site where the red blood cells pick up oxygen and transport it to tissues throughout the body. This means that low iron stores in the body can affect the way oxygen is distributed, and without proper oxygenation, living tissues will eventually die.

Iron elementIron has an atomic mass of 55.845 and an atomic number of 26.

Plants need irons too

In plants, it is imperative for photosynthesis, so plants can take in carbon dioxide and give off life sustaining oxygen. Iron is obviously important to all living things just considering its above functions, but there are many other uses for iron both in biological systems as well as non-systemic uses, including weaponry as described below.

Metals of antiquity

Iron is one of seven elemental metals known as “metals of antiquity”. For edification reasons, the other six metals of antiquity are: gold, copper, lead, silver, tin and mercury. This means that this metal has been known to ancient civilizations including the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Hittites. So, it is impossible to know which civilization was the first to acknowledge the existence of iron.

Map of the Hittite EmpireMap of the Hittite Empire. The weapons used by the Hittites were far more superior than their foes as they were made from iron.

The first use of the metal

Iron can be definitively identified as first being used after 1500 BC in Asia. The Hittites were the first ancient people to use iron, and they did so in weaponry after realizing it was far superior to bronze that was used previously. The Hittites knew the iron weapons gave them an edge in battles, so they kept iron smelting and forging a secret. It stayed a Hittite secret for about four hundred years until their empire disbanded and the people moved throughout Asia, sharing their secret of manufacturing iron weapons wherever they went. It is assumed that iron was discovered in western Asia, since that is where the Hittites were from, but even though they were the first to use iron weaponry, it can’t be assumed that they were the people who actually discovered the elemental metal.

More on Iron: Facts about Iron.