Metals are vital in everyday life.
Out of the ninety four naturally occurring elements around seventy are classified as metals. When we describe something as being metallic it is often because it is hard, heavy, lustrous, formed from a metal and strong enough to be made into huge variety of tools, machines and structures.Humans first used metals about 8000 years ago and by 6500 years ago began to extract metals from ores.
Ores are rocks that contain enough metal minerals to make it worthwhile extracting them. For example, tin or (Cassiterite) is used to make tin and iron ore (Haematite) is used to make iron and steel. The ore needs to be heated to extreme temperatures in order to turn it into metal.
The first metals people used were native metals like copper, silver and gold, which can occur naturally as metals rather then an ore. These occur as metal deposits in the ground and are easy to make into objects like jewellery and tools.
Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the T Grevatt collection held by Cornwall Council
Some of the world’s oldest metal artefacts are gold. It is instantly recognisable, by its shiny and gold colour. Most gold is used for jewellery, but the electronics industry is using increasing amounts for use in computers.