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Bronze and Copper 

 

Copper has been an essential material to man since prehistoric times. In fact, one of the major 'ages' or stages of human history is named after a copper alloy: bronze. Copper is man's oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years.


Copper was the first metal used by man in any quantity... it could be easily hammered into sheets and the sheets in turn worked into shapes.


It was the copper metals which were used when a combination of strength and durability was required. The ability to resist corrosion ensured that copper, bronze and brass remained as both functional and decorative materials during the Middle Ages and the successive centuries through the Industrial Revolution and on to the present day.
 

 The Egyptians used the ankh symbol to denote copper in their system of hieroglyphs. It also represented eternal life. Copper axes were manufactured by casting in the Balkans in the 4th millennium BC. The ancient Romans extracted copper ores on Cyprus.

 

Did you know?...In the early 18th century Swansea was becoming a major copper centre and by 1860 was smelting about 90% of the world’s output.  

 

The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were tougher and more long lasting than could be previously made.  Bronze tools, weapons, and building materials were harder and more durable than those made previously from copper or stone.


The earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BC ... from both Europe and North Africa and Asia.
Ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not often found together so bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a major influence on the development of cultures. In Europe, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall, which were traded as far as the Eastern Mediterranean.


In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze also represented a store of value and an indicator of social status. In Europe, large hoards of bronze tools, typically socketed axes are found, which mostly show no signs of wear. Though bronze is generally harder than wrought iron the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age around 1000BC


Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, and has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day..........including our beautiful and unique jewellery!!