Thursday, 1 May 2014
Age of bronze
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, with arsenic sometimes added to the mix. It is stronger than copper alone, and obviously much, much stronger than tin (even if, paradoxically, bronze tends to grow stronger the more tin you put in it). Bronze is not to be confused with brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. The age of bronze (ca 1800-700 BCE) really came about with the invention of metallurgy; up to then, metals like copper and gold were hammered into shape to make jewelry or tools, but the majority of the latter were still made of stone (hence the name "stone age" and bone. The iron age would arrive after the bronze age, once technology (mostly meaning hotter fires, using coal) allowed the smithing of an even harder metal.
As for gold, well... it sure looks pretty and hasits uses, but it is pretty soft. That's where the practice of biting a gold coin to ascertain its authenticity comes from: a gold-plated coin made of some baser metal would be much harder than a genuine gold one. (Having never owned nor tried to bite a gold coin, I have no idea how easy it would be to deform one with one's teeth. I probably wouldn't try).