How did mankind discover metal?

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This has always bothered me. Like how did ooga booga caveman discover that if you heat up yellow rock you get better ooga booga axe. Pls explain I’m going insane.

Edit: Thank you everyone for answering now I can sleep well.

In: 2573

We would find out naturally that clay left out in the sun would harden.

Putting said clay into a fire would do the same thing, but quicker and produce a more hardened clay that did not revert back when wet (as opposed to just sundried clay).

Clay might have impurities in it, such as trace amounts of ore that, in a hot enough fire, would melt the metal and leak out, which would turn very hard when cooled.

Find concentrated or larger deposits of these impurities and do the same, and you get more of this harder substance.

And I would like to add that although people during stone age were using stone tools that look primitive to our modern eye, they weren’t less intelligent than we are today. Actually those stone tools are highly efficient, crafted with skill and technical knowledge and very specialized for the diversified crafts they were used for.

By the way, they used stone tools to work on their copper tools when they started to make them to give them a finish and sharpen the blade.

No offense meant, but I do get some shivers when one refers to Stone Age People as “ooga booga cavemen”. Sorry.

We were way beyond living on caves. Cave men made Stone tools for the better part of the last 1,000,000 years. Copper Age is really not that long ago

You ever sit around a fire and throw in random things just to see what happens? Imagine doing that for thousands of years. Experimenting with different rocks and tidbits, different kinds of wood, different temperatures, different fire constructions. Eventually you are bound to stumble on something cool.

I always like to point out in threads like this that ancient humans were not stupid. Humans and human-like hominids have been using fire and stone tools for millennia. You have to imagine the vast amount of time humans had to explore their environment and learn new things. Combine that with oral history passed down thru generations, and the information just keeps building on top of itself.

“Grandad said this kind of rock will glow in a fire. What would happen if I get it as hot as I possibly can?”

Metals do not just exist as ore, they can exist in the metallic form on earth. Large scale metal usage started with cooler and you can find [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_copper](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_copper)

So the likely start is people found the metal. You will find it alongside copper that is not in the metallic form. If you heat it up you get metal from it too so simply using the stones in a fire would notice the metal in it.

It is worth noticing that the ore that was used back then was on the surface and contained a lot more metal than most ore mines today. The high-grade surface ore is rare today because human has already mined it.

Bronze is copper mixed with tin, the first finds of it are 4000 years after the first find of copper usage so it took a long time until someone tried that

The first iron/steel is likely from metallic meteorites. You can make a sword from a meteor by just hating it up and shape it.