I recently ran into a terrific summary of archaeometallurgy--the study of ancient metal use--by David Killick and Thomas Fenn, in the Annual Review of Archaeology, and it has inspired me to start an in-depth study of metals, similar to my Plant Domestication and Raw Materials lists.
Copper Plate Reproductions, Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma. Originals made ca AD 1250-1450. Photo of the Spiro Mounds museum display by peggydavis66
The history of metals is a fascinating one, and it really starts with copper: a metal found in abundance all over the world and independently discovered and worked many different times in many different locations. As such, copper is a good starting point for an overview of ancient metal use: look for more in-depth studies going forward.
- Read more about the History of Copper
- Get of taste of what is to come in the History of Metals
- Raw Materials
- Plant Domestication
For a scholarly overview of ancient metallurgy, definitely see Killick and Fenn:
Killick D, and Fenn T. 2012. Archaeometallurgy: The Study of Preindustrial Mining and Metallurgy. Annual Review of Anthropology 41(1):559-575.