Shiny, reddish copper was the first metal ever manipulated by humans, and it remains an important metal in industry today. Copper ranks as third-most-consumed industrial metal in the world, after iron and aluminum, according to the U. Aside from gold, copper is the only metal on the periodic table whose coloring isn't naturally silver or grey. Most copper occurs in ores and must be smelted for purity before it can be used.
The oldest metal object found in the Middle East consists of copper (it was a tiny awl dating back as far as 5100 B. But natural chemical reactions do sometimes release native copper, according to Chemicool; this explains why humans have been making things from the metal for at least 8,000 years.
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penny was originally made of pure copper (nowadays, it is 97.5 percent zinc with a thin copper skin). About three-quarters of that copper goes to make electrical wires, telecommunication cables and electronics.
People figured out how to smelt copper by about 4500 B. The next technological leap was creating copper alloys; by adding tin to copper, people made a harder metal: bronze.
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