When Was Iron First Used?

Iron is one of those essential elements that has several different origin stories, depending on what period of history you’re thinking about. Its meteoric rise in popularity over the development of human civilisation has multiple starting points, so let’s take a look at the biggest moments in the story of iron over the years.

Pre-History Iron

Today iron is seen for what it is – a very brittle material that is easily prone to corrosion – but it was once such a highly prized commodity that its value was higher than gold. Researchers have found evidence of iron being used as ceremonial and even mystical artefacts by ancient Egyptians and were described then as gifts from the gods.

The reason behind this is that, back then, iron wasn’t smelted from natural resources on Earth. Instead it was only found in meteorites that fell from space. That’s a pretty rare event – how many times have you found a meteorite?

Iron meteorite

It wasn’t until the Mesopotamian era of 5,000 BC that people figured out how to smelt telluric and bog iron from the elements around them, and that changed everything. By 2,000 BC, according to historians, iron was being widely used throughout what we now know as Africa and China. It was the introduction of wrought iron around 1,000 BC that ushered in the Iron Age.

The Iron Age Begins

While there’s no hard date that the Iron Age is considered officially begun, most people agree it’s around 1,300 to 1,200 BC when iron finally became cheap enough to produce and practically use that it overtook bronze as the go-to material for crafting tools or even weapons.

Iron age weapons

Wrought iron, the metal made when carbon is added to iron while being forged, was likely an accidental discovery from contact with charcoal in the smelting fires. Wrought iron didn’t readily break like regular bog iron did, and it proved to be a more formidable opponent to the harsh environment.

At any rate, the concept of mixing other elements with iron took hold, and more combinations were devices to create new, sturdier, materials. This led, eventually, to the discovery of steel making.

The team at ShapeCUT prefer to be looking towards the future of steel instead of the past, but we’re grateful all the same for all the innovations that have come before. Talk to ShapeCUT today about our range of steel cutting and shaping services.

Image source: Wikipedia, Flikr

When was iron first used infographic