Civilization rests on the metals, which first provided man with tools worthy of his wonderful hands and yet more wonderful brain. Stone is not pliable ; it is very apt to split and it is ground and polished only with great difficulty. There came a time when substitutes were sought for it in the softer and more easily worked metals – gold, silver, tin, and copper. These are often found in a pure state and not as ores, so that they can be readily extracted and worked cold. The American Indians in this way got pure copper from mines near Lake Superior and made metal spearheads, knives, and hatchets, which were modeled on stone implements. Other barbarous peoples have done the same thing. In fact, hammering the metals generally preceded smelting them.
How metallurgy arose we can only guess. Either by accident or by experimentation it was learned that while some stones
cracked in a fire and some were scarcely affected by it, still others, subjected to intense heat, became soft and malleable. Then followed the furnace, bellows, anvil, sledge, tongs, and all the appliances and processes of the smith’s craft. With its development the metals became indispensable to man, so that in a sense the Age of Metals continues still and must continue to the end of time.