The History of Metals

The History of Metals

The History of Metals

We have documented the history if individual metals before and we have also visualized their annual production. However, we have not seen all of the metals on one timeline before such as in this infographic.

Worth noting is gold’s prominence ever since the beginning of history. Because the yellow metal is one of the rare elements that can be found in native form (such as nuggets), it was used by the earliest of our ancestors.

Comparatively, it is only recently that the technology has advanced to allow us to discover or extract the rest of the metals on today’s periodic table. For example, even though we knew of titanium as early as 1791, it was relatively useless all the way up until the 1940’s because of its metallurgy. In the 20th century, scientists advanced a way to remove the impurities, making it possible to get the strong and hard titanium we know today.

Another standout fact is that it took all the way until the early 19th century for two very important elements to be discovered. Both are not found free in nature very often and thus slipped detection for many centuries. Silicon, which actually makes up 26% of the earth’s crust, was discovered in 1823. Then in 1827, aluminum was discovered – we now know today that it is the most common metal in the earth’s crust (it’s actually 1200X more abundant than copper).

Original graphic from: Makin Metals


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  • Hey You

    Indeed; the chart is both informative and easily comprehensive.

  • Bob

    Nice work Jeff!

  • Graham Ford

    1969 – the first moowalk. I thought the cow jumped over the moon?

    • Nick Faze

      Maybe you should work on your jokes a bit more mate

  • care package

    Personally I think the ‘metal ages’ are a myth. For one if you know how to smelt one metal, why would it take thousands of years to figure out how to smelt another one? Or even start combining them? I believe what archaeologists are finding is just one civilization’s preference to one particular metal, or the fact that’s what was available in the area.

    Another example are American Indians. They used stone tools all the time, during a time period where guns were being developed. Civilizations used what they had.

    I know it would be shocking to some to believe we’ve just had it all wrong this whole time, but I think it gets pushed because they have to keep up the illusion we were dumb cavemen at first and have been ‘evolving’ with greater intelligences over time.

  • Mister_Jim

    Antimony: 1450
    Antimony: 1750
    Which is it?

  • 22

    His name is jeff

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