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Metallurgical Technicians

History

Metallurgy as an art and as a craft is thousands of years old. Ancient civilizations discovered how to extract metallic elements from rock and create useful metals from those extracts. That essential process occurs to this day in metallurgy.

Copper was probably one of the first metals to be used by ancient craftspeople. Historians know that weapons made from bits of copper were being forged 6,000 years ago in the Near East. Copper, along with lead, was probably also among the earliest metals to be smelted (separated from its ore by means of heating) by early alchemists. The smelting of iron dates back in Egypt to at least 2000 B.C.

Through the centuries, people who worked with metal were considered both artists and craftsworkers and they relied heavily on trial and error plus inspired guesswork. Medieval alchemists added to our store of knowledge about metals as they carefully studied the behavior, properties, and uses of metals. As years went by, and especially during the 19th and 20th centuries, metallurgy developed into a combination of art and science, involving knowledge of the chemical and physical principles that underlie the properties and behavior of metals.

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