Who Discovered Copper

Ever wondered who discovered copper? Copper has a long history, stretching back to the ancient Greeks and beyond. Who is responsible for discovering this versatile metal millennia ago?

The many forms of copper.
To explore the question of who discovered copper, you must know a little about the different ways in which copper can be used. Copper may be mined underground or in open pits, but copper also occurs naturally on the surface at some places. These surface ores are useable with very little processing, and they require virtually no special mining apparatus to gather and utilize. Because copper exists in this free metallic state, it's the first metal that man mined and worked, and its history stretches back into ancient times.

When was copper first used?
Copper use dates back millennia, but the exact date is difficult to pin down. Copper has been used throughout history, and many experts believe that mankind first began using copper around 9000 BC in the Iran highlands. By that reckoning, Neolithic Man is responsible for discovering copper.

The oldest archaeological evidence of copper.
The oldest archaeological evidence of copper mining and working is a copper pendant. This copper pendant was discovered in northern Iraq, in an area that is believed to be one of the oldest regions to work copper. The pendant dates back to around 8700 BC, lending support to theories that copper use began around 9000 BC.

The origin of copper smelting.
Copper smelting is really the beginning of metallurgy, when the usefulness of this metal, one of the most diverse commodities, became widespread. By 4500 BC, copper smelting sites began to emerge in Israel, Egypt and Jordan. Copper smelting, and many other related copper working technologies, appeared to emerge simultaneously in several distant regions during this era.

The first human evidence of copper working.
While sites and artifacts demonstrate that copper working has gone on for millennia, the first human evidence linked to copper working is Otzi, a mummified body found in the Alps dating back to 3300 BC. Analysis of copper particles and arsenic in the hair and the copper axe found with the body indicate that Otzi is the oldest known metallurgist, as he was likely involved with copper smelting.

The origin of the name copper.
Copper as a name for this metal dates back to ancient copper smelting sites in Cyprus. The Romans smelted copper from ore found in Cyprus, and so named the metal "cuprum" after the country Cyprus. The Anglicized version of this word is "copper," which is the name that many people know this metal by today.

Important notes on the discovery of copper.
While copper was likely found in its free nature state as far back as 9000 BC, many important discoveries have occurred along the way to make copper one of the most widely utilized commodities today. No single person or even region is responsible for the many incarnations and forms that copper takes.

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