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Oct 14, 2011 07:48 AM

Earliest use of metal in cookware? or Calling Chemical Kinetics.

On Wiki I found a link about cast iron being used in China in the 4 centruy BC. What I'm really looking for is some history or theories on the first uses of metal. From what I've been able to find the origins of humans using metal are lost in antiquity. I'm hoping someone here might have a better source than what I've been able to find on my own.

I think it's so interesting to imagine early humans wandering the savanah with their crude spears and noticing some discolored dirt or rocks and deciding to...? And that somehow leads to the Brooklyn Bridge.



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  1. Hi, JB:

    You might start by looking at when man first started melting copper. I believe the archeological record now supports the conclusion this was happening around 8,000 BCE. Google the Chalcolithic Age. Mining pure copper deposits probably goes back even further, but chunks big enough to hammer into cooking vessels are pretty rare. OTOH, Native Peoples of Canada and the US were hammering large pieces of natural copper deposits into sheets without any smelting technology.


    1. Well, I know the Chinese used bronze as cookware before iron. Though I also believe only the elites were about to use bronze, common people at the time were still using clay for cookware. Also like most technology advances, these stone age, bronze age, iron age, were probably more driven by war and military use than by household usage. Cultures which take advantage of stone, copper, bronze, iron in the battlefield has a huge advantages and domain the others and survive through history.


      My guess is this is pretty much true for most other culture as well because the bronze age was before the iron age for most culture.

      1. I only picked Iron because this is a cookware forum and wanted to try to keep my question somewhat related. :) I searched on Chalcolithic and found this site -


        It gives a decent explanation of the early uses and methods of discovery. Gold being one of the earliest and easiest to find due to it's color and weight. The earliest manipulation was through hammering as you pointed out kaleokahu. While it makes sense with Gold and Silver, what made them think I'll try it with this green rock, copper?


        3 Replies
        1. re: JuniorBalloon

          Please tell me you are not trying to convince your wife that you want a gold cookware through this argument of human metal discovery. :)

          1. re: JuniorBalloon

            If we really believe in pounding and hammering is the first manipulation of metals (which it should be), then early human do not need any neat colors to do so. We were already doing that to normal looking rocks -- the stone age.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Yes, this is the clonclusion that I've also come to. Once you begin to work with different stones, notice they have different properties, you would be extremely likely to experiment with everything around. Combine that with a few lucky accidents and it is inevitable. You only need to acquire that first critical mass of information.

              And there will be no gold cookware on my salary. :)