Why Was Copper Used in Ancient Times?

Copper is one of the oldest metals known to man, and its use can be traced back to ancient times. The metal was widely used by different civilizations for various purposes, ranging from toolmaking to decorative items. In this article, we will take a closer look at why copper was used in ancient times.

Properties of Copper

Copper is a soft and malleable metal with a reddish-orange color. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, making it ideal for electrical wiring and electronic components. Copper has a high resistance to corrosion, which means it does not rust easily compared to other metals like iron or steel.

Early Use of Copper

The discovery of copper can be traced back to around 9000 BCE when humans first began experimenting with metallurgy. The early use of copper involved hammering the metal into shape, and it was mainly used for making tools such as axes, knives, and spearheads.

Copper’s Role in the Bronze Age

The Bronze Age marked a significant shift in human history as people began using alloys made from copper and tin instead of pure copper. This period saw the rise of civilizations like the Egyptians, Sumerians, Greeks, and Romans that relied heavily on bronze for their weapons, armor, and tools.

The Advantages of Using Bronze

Bronze had several advantages over pure copper. It was stronger and more durable than pure copper while still retaining its malleability. This meant that bronze could be cast into intricate shapes that were not possible with pure copper.

Copper in Ancient Architecture

Copper was also widely used in ancient architecture due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. The roofs of many ancient buildings were made from copper sheets because they were resistant to corrosion and weathering.

Examples of Ancient Buildings Made from Copper

One of the most well-known examples of the use of copper in ancient architecture is the dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The dome was built in 691 CE and features an impressive copper roof that has survived for over 1300 years.

Copper’s Role in Medicine

Copper was also used for medicinal purposes in ancient times. The Greeks and Romans believed that copper could help with various ailments, including headaches, arthritis, and inflammation.

The Antibacterial Properties of Copper

Recent research has shown that copper has powerful antibacterial properties. This property was not well understood by ancient civilizations, but they did observe that water stored in copper vessels stayed fresh for longer periods than water stored in other containers.


Copper played a significant role in human history, and its use can be traced back to ancient times. The metal’s unique properties made it ideal for various applications, ranging from toolmaking to decorative items. Today, copper is still widely used in many industries due to its durability and excellent conductivity.