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We present a timeline of the discovery of metals which has played a huge part in the development of civilisation

Infographic: History of Metals Timeline

The development of civilisation has relied heavily on the discovery of metals. Prehistoric man used metals to build tools and weapons and as our knowledge of metallurgy has developed, metals have played an essential role in the advancement of agriculture, transport and arts and craft – forging the path to today’s modern society.


At Makin Metal Powders we supply a range of metal powders and decided to highlight the discovery of all known metals in a graphical timeline (there is a text version below) - please share it and let us know what you think.






Infographic showing the history of metal discovery



We've provided an embed code so all you have to do is copy and paste that into your website, blog, or resource site - all we ask is that you give credit and link back to this page. It couldn't be easier, we hope you enjoy it!

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History of Metals Timeline (Text Version)

There are currently 86 known metals but before the 19th century only 24 had been discovered and, of these 24 metals, 12 were discovered in the 18th century.


The Metals of Antiquity, were the metals upon which civilisation was based.


(1) Gold (ca) 6000BC - Stone Age man learned to fashion gold into jewellery. The popularity of gold is largely due to its scarcity, value and mankind’s fascination with the metal.


(2) Copper, (ca) 4200BC - The use of copper in antiquity is of more significance than gold as the first tools, implements and weapons were made from copper.


(3) Silver,(ca) 4000BC - Silver had been widely used throughout time as a basis for monetary systems and played central roles in the currencies of the Roman and Chinese Empires.


(4) Lead, (ca) 3500BC - It is believed that lead smelting began at least 9,000 years ago, and the oldest known artifact of lead is a statuette found at the temple of Osiris on the site of Abydos dated circa 3800 BC.


(5) Tin, (ca) 1750BC - First smelted in combination with copper around 3500 BC to produce bronze. The oldest artifacts date from around 2000 BC.


(6) Iron,smelted, (ca) 1500BC - The discovery of smelting around 3000 BC led to the start of the Iron Age around 1200 BC and the prominent use of iron for tools and weapons.


(7) Mercury, (ca) 750BC - Known to ancient Chinese and Indians before 2000 BC, and found in Egyptian tombs dating from 1500 BC.


1735 - Cobalt

1751 - Nickel

1774 - Manganese

1781 - Molybdenum

1782 - Tellurium

1783 - Tungsten

1789 - Uranium

1789 - Zirconium

1791 - Titanium

1794 - Yttrium

1797 - Berylium

1797 - Chromium

1801 - Niobium

1802 - Tantalum

1803 - Iridium, Palladium, Rhodium

1807 - Potassium, Sodium

1808 - Boron, Barium, Calcium, Magnesium, Strontium

1814 - Cerium

1817 - Lithium, Cadmium, Selenium

1823 - Silicon

1827 - Aluminium

1828 - Thorium

1830 - Vanadium

1839 - Lanthanum

1843 - Erbium, Terbium

1844 - Ruthenium

1860 - Cesium, Rubidium

1861 - Thallium

1863 - Indium

1875 - Gallium

1878-1885 - Holmium, Thulium, Scandium, Samarium, Gadalinium, Praseodynium, Neodynium, Dysprosium

1886 - Germanium

1898 - Polonium, Radium

1899 - Actinium

1901 - Europium

1907 - Lutetium

1917 - Protactinium

1923 - Hafnium

1924 - Rhenium

1937 - Technetium

1939 - Francium

1945 - Promethium

1940-61 - Transuranium elements – (Neptunium, Plutonium, Curium, Americum, Berkelium, Californium, Einsteinium, Fermium, Mendelevium, Nobelium, Lawrencium)


We hope you enjoy looking at the discovery of metals timeline, if you decide to use the image on your site we'd love to hear about it, drop us an email to mmp@makin-metals.com