Copper and Tin

Phoenician trade routes

Speaking of copper, let’s take a minute to appreciate that around the Mediterranean, people had stopped making weapons and tools out of stone and had switched over to copper. There was lots of copper to be mined in Cyprus (pronounced KI-proos). You dig up rocks that have copper ore in them and heat ‘em in a blast furnace until the metal oozes out. Copper is a whole lot easier to make things out of than stone. Its only drawback: it’s not the hardest metal and copper blades need to be sharpened constantly. Copper is soft enough that kids put pennies on railroad tracks and a train’s wheels will smoosh ‘em out. YOU MUST NEVER DO THIS.

The Phoenicians were zipping all around the Mediterranean Sea, buying and selling stuff. Eventually one of those sea-captains got brave enough to head out into the Atlantic Ocean and up north to the British Isles. You know what kind of metal they mine in southern England? Tin. So the Phoenicians brought tin back to the Mediterranean and some genius discovered if you combine molten tin and molten copper you get a new, stronger alloy—bronze. That discovery kicked off the Bronze Age.

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-important-events/bronze-age-0013179
https://www.ancient.eu/phoenicia/
https://www.quora.com/What-is-meant-by-smelting
https://www.reference.com/science/difference-between-bronze-brass-copper-9ba6b5e91afdd523
https://www.avivametals.com/collections/bronze-alloys

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

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