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Bronze is an
alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts Elec ...
consisting primarily of
copper Copper is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

copper
, commonly with about 12–12.5%
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
and often with the addition of other metals (such as
aluminium Aluminium (aluminum in and ) is a with the  Al and  13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common , at approximately one third that of . It has a great affinity towards , and of on the surface when exposed to air ...

aluminium
,
manganese Manganese is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

manganese
,
nickel Nickel is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

nickel
or
zinc Zinc is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbe ...

zinc
) and sometimes non-metals or
metalloids A metalloid is a type of chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have th ...
such as
arsenic Arsenic is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same num ...

arsenic
,
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemistry), reactive, phosphor ...

phosphorus
or
silicon Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

silicon
. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as
strength Physical strength *Physical strength, as in people or animals *Hysterical strength, extreme strength occurring when people are in life-and-death situations *Superhuman strength, great physical strength far above human capability *A common attrib ...
,
ductility Ductility is a mechanical property commonly described as a material's amenability to drawing Drawing is a form of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, c ...

ductility
, or
machinabilityMachinability is the ease with which a metal can be cut ( machined) permitting the removal of the material with a satisfactory finish at low cost.Degarmo, p. 542. Materials with good machinability (free machining materials) require little power to c ...
. The archeological period in which bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is known as the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. The beginning of the Bronze Age in India and western
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as cont ...

Eurasia
is conventionally dated to the mid-4th millennium BC, and to the early 2nd millennium BC in China; elsewhere it gradually spread across regions. The Bronze Age was followed by the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the ...
starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, although bronze continued to be much more widely used than it is in modern times. Because historical pieces were often made of
brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...

brass
es (copper and zinc) and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects increasingly use the generalized term "
copper alloy Copper alloys are metal alloys An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lust ...
" instead.


Etymology

The word ''bronze'' (1730–40) is borrowed from
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured ...
(1511), itself borrowed from Italian 'bell metal, brass' (13th century, transcribed in
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
as ) from either: * , back-formation from
Byzantine Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, ...
(, 11th century), perhaps from (, '
Brindisi Brindisi ( , ; scn, label=Salentino, Brindisino, Brìnnisi; la, Brundisium; grc, Βρεντέσιον, translit=Brentésion; cms, Brunda) is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coa ...

Brindisi
', reputed for its bronze; or originally: * in its earliest form from
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
, (, 'brass', modern ) and () 'copper', from which also came
Georgian Georgian may refer to: Common meanings * Anything related to, or originating from Georgia (country) **Georgians, an indigenous Caucasian ethnic group **Georgian language, a Kartvelian language spoken by Georgians **Georgian scripts, three scripts ...
( ),
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
''pirinç,'' and
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
(), also meaning 'bronze'.


History

The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects that were harder and more durable than previously possible. Bronze tools, weapons, armor, and
building material Building material is material used for construction. Many naturally occurring substances, such as clay, rocks, sand, and wood, even twigs and leaves, have been used to construct buildings. Apart from naturally occurring materials, many man-mad ...

building material
s such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone and copper ("
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
") predecessors. Initially, bronze was made out of copper and
arsenic Arsenic is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same num ...

arsenic
, forming
arsenic bronze Arsenical bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous ...
, or from naturally or artificially mixed ores of copper and arsenic, with the earliest artifacts so far known coming from the
Iranian plateau
Iranian plateau
in the 5th millennium BC. It was only later that
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
was used, becoming the major non-copper ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium BC. Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the alloying process could be more easily controlled, and the resulting alloy was stronger and easier to cast. Also,
unlike arsenic
unlike arsenic
, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic. The earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BC in a
Vinča culture The Vinča culture (), also known as Turdaș culture or Turdaș–Vinča culture, was a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently ...
site in
Pločnik Pločnik ( sr, Плочник) is a village in the municipality of Prokuplje Prokuplje ( sr-cyrl, Прокупље, ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pengui ...
(
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...

Serbia
). Other early examples date to the late
4th millennium BC The 4th millennium BC spanned the years 4000 through 3001 BC. Some of the major changes in human culture during this time included the beginning of the Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized b ...
in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
(
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
) and some ancient sites in China,
Luristan Lorestan Province (also written Luristan, Lurestan, or Loristan, fa, استان لرستان) is a province of western Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in ...
(Iran) and
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
).
Ore ore – psilomelane Psilomelane is a group name for hard black manganese oxides including hollandite and romanechite. Psilomelane consists of hydrous manganese Manganese is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart- ...

Ore
s of copper and the far rarer tin are not often found together (exceptions include Cornwall in Britain, one ancient site in
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
and one in Iran), so serious bronze work has always involved trade.
Tin sources and trade in ancient timesTin Tin is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numb ...
had a major influence on the development of cultures. In
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, which were traded as far as
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
in the eastern
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
. In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze also represented a store of value and an indicator of social status. In
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, large hoards of bronze tools, typically socketed axes (illustrated above), are found, which mostly show no signs of wear. With
Chinese ritual bronze with zigzag thunder pattern; Early Zhou dynasty; Shanghai Museum , as it is now displayed File:Wine cup (gu), China, Shang dynasty, bronze, Honolulu Academy of Arts.JPG, 310px, ''Gu (vessel), Gū''; Shang dynasty; Honolulu Academy of Arts (Hawa ...
s, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources, the case is clear. These were made in enormous quantities for elite burials, and also used by the living for ritual offerings.


Transition to iron

Though bronze is generally harder than
wrought iron Wrought iron is an iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . ...
, with
Vickers hardness The Vickers hardness test was developed in 1921 by Robert L. Smith and George E. Sandland at Vickers Ltd as an alternative to the Brinell method to measure the hardness Hardness is a measure of the resistance to localized plastic deformation i ...
of 60–258 vs. 30–80, the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
gave way to the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the ...
after a serious disruption of the tin trade: the population migrations of around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin around the Mediterranean and from Britain, limiting supplies and raising prices. As the art of working in iron improved, iron became cheaper and improved in quality. As cultures advanced from hand-wrought iron to machine-forged iron (typically made with
trip hammer The trip hammer of the St. Michael's Furnace property, at the Museum of Iron in Saint-Hubert (Belgium). A trip hammer, also known as a tilt hammer or helve hammer, is a massive powered hammer. Traditional uses of trip hammers include pounding, w ...
s powered by water), blacksmiths learned how to make
steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
. Steel is stronger than bronze and holds a sharper edge longer. Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, and has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day.


Composition

There are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is 88%
copper Copper is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

copper
and 12%
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
. Alpha bronze consists of the alpha
solid solution A solid solution describes a family of materials which have a range of compositions (e.g. AxB1−x) and a single crystal structure. Many examples can be found in metallurgy, geology, and solid-state chemistry. The word "solution" is used to desc ...

solid solution
of tin in copper. Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make
coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...

coin
s,
springs Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
,
turbine A turbine ( or ) (from the Greek , ''tyrbē'', or Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', ...

turbine
s and
blade A blade is the portion of a tool, weapon, or machine with an edge that is designed to wikt:puncture, puncture, wikt:chop, chop, Cutting, slice or scraper (archaeology), scrape surfaces or materials. Blades are typically made from materials that a ...

blade
s. Historical "bronzes" are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was on hand; the metal of the 12th-century English
Gloucester Candlestick The Gloucester Candlestick is an elaborately decorated English Romanesque gilt-bronze candlestick, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was made for Gloucester Cathedral between 1104 and 1113, and is one of the outstanding survival ...

Gloucester Candlestick
is bronze containing a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic with an unusually large amount of silver – between 22.5% in the base and 5.76% in the pan below the candle. The proportions of this mixture suggest that the candlestick was made from a hoard of old coins. The
Benin Bronzes The Benin Bronzes are a group of more than a thousand metal plaques and sculptures that decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin The Kingdom of Benin, (also known as the Edo Kingdom, or the Benin Empire) was a kingdom in West Africa ...

Benin Bronzes
are in fact brass, and the
Romanesque Romanesque may refer to: In art and architecture *First Romanesque, or Lombard Romanesque architectural style *Pre-Romanesque art and architecture, a term used for the early phase of the style *Romanesque architecture, architecture of Europe wh ...
Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass. In the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
, two forms of bronze were commonly used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in casting; and "mild bronze", about 6% tin, was hammered from ingots to make sheets. Bladed weapons were mostly cast from classic bronze, while helmets and armor were hammered from mild bronze. Commercial bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc) and architectural bronze (57% copper, 3%
lead Lead is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metals, heavy metal that is density, denser than most common materials. Lead is Mohs scale of mineral hardness#Intermediate h ...

lead
, 40% zinc) are more properly regarded as
brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...

brass
alloys because they contain
zinc Zinc is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbe ...

zinc
as the main alloying ingredient. They are commonly used in architectural applications. Plastic bronze contains a significant quantity of lead, which makes for improved plasticity possibly used by the ancient Greeks in their ship construction. has a composition of Si: 2.80–3.80%, Mn: 0.50–1.30%, Fe: 0.80% max., Zn: 1.50% max., Pb: 0.05% max., Cu: balance. Other bronze alloys include
aluminium bronze Aluminium bronze is a type of bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polish ...
,
phosphor bronze Phosphor bronze is a member of the family of copper alloy Copper alloys are metal alloys An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, ...
, manganese bronze,
bell metal Bell metal is a hard bronze alloy used for making Bell (instrument), bells and related instruments, such as Cymbal alloys, cymbals. It is a form of bronze with a higher tin content, usually in approximately a 4:1 ratio of copper to tin (typica ...
,
arsenical bronze Arsenical bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous ...
,
speculum metal Speculum metal is a mixture of around two-thirds copper and one-third tin, making a white brittle alloy that can be polished to make a highly reflective surface. It was used historically to make different kinds of mirrors from personal grooming ai ...
and
cymbal alloys Cymbal A cymbal is a common percussion instrument. Often used in pairs, cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys. The majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient desig ...
.


Properties

Bronzes are typically ductile alloys, considerably less
brittle tensile testpieces A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress (physics), stress, it fracture Fracture is the separation of an object or material into two or more pieces under the action of stress. The fracture of a solid usually ...
than cast iron. Typically bronze oxidizes only superficially; once a copper oxide (eventually becoming copper carbonate) layer is formed, the underlying metal is protected from further corrosion. This can be seen on statues from the Hellenistic period. However, if copper chlorides are formed, a corrosion-mode called "
bronze disease Bronze disease is an irreversible and nearly inexorable corrosion Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide of rutile Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium di ...
" will eventually completely destroy it. Copper-based
alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts Elec ...
s have lower
melting point The melting point (or, rarely, liquefaction point) of a substance is the temperature Temperature ( ) is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can b ...

melting point
s than steel or iron and are more readily produced from their constituent metals. They are generally about 10 percent denser than steel, although alloys using
aluminium Aluminium (aluminum in and ) is a with the  Al and  13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common , at approximately one third that of . It has a great affinity towards , and of on the surface when exposed to air ...

aluminium
or
silicon Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

silicon
may be slightly less dense. Bronze is a better conductor of heat and electricity than most steels. The cost of copper-base alloys is generally higher than that of steels but lower than that of
nickel Nickel is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

nickel
-base alloys. Copper and its alloys have a huge variety of uses that reflect their versatile physical, mechanical, and
chemical properties A chemical property is any of a material's properties that becomes evident during, or after, a chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substan ...
. Some common examples are the high
electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric current An electric current is a stream of charged particle In p ...
of pure copper, low-friction properties of bearing bronze (bronze that has a high lead content— 6–8%), resonant qualities of bell bronze (20% tin, 80% copper), and resistance to corrosion by
seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of E ...

seawater
of several bronze alloys. The melting point of bronze varies depending on the ratio of the alloy components and is about . Bronze is usually nonmagnetic, but certain alloys containing iron or nickel may have magnetic properties.


Uses

Bronze, or bronze-like alloys and mixtures, were used for coins over a longer period. Bronze was especially suitable for use in boat and ship fittings prior to the wide employment of
stainless steel Stainless steel is a group of ferrous alloys that contain a minimum of approximately 11% chromium Chromium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistr ...
owing to its combination of toughness and resistance to salt water corrosion. Bronze is still commonly used in ship propellers and submerged bearings. In the 20th century,
silicon Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

silicon
was introduced as the primary alloying element, creating an alloy with wide application in industry and the major form used in contemporary
statuary A statue is a free-standing sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling ...

statuary
. Sculptors may prefer silicon bronze because of the ready availability of silicon bronze brazing rod, which allows colour-matched repair of defects in castings. Aluminium is also used for the structural metal
aluminium bronze Aluminium bronze is a type of bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polish ...
. Bronze parts are tough and typically used for bearings, clips,
electrical connector An electrical connector is an electromechanical device used to join electrical conductors and create an electrical circuit An electrical network is an interconnection of electronic component, electrical components (e.g., battery (electri ...
s and
springs Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
. Bronze also has low
friction Friction is the force In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related en ...

friction
against dissimilar metals, making it important for
cannon A cannon is a large-caliber A 45 ACP hollowpoint (Federal Cartridge, Federal HST) with two .22 Long Rifle, 22 LR cartridges for comparison In gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launc ...

cannon
s prior to modern tolerancing, where iron cannonballs would otherwise stick in the barrel. It is still widely used today for springs, bearings, bushings, automobile transmission pilot bearings, and similar fittings, and is particularly common in the bearings of small s.
Phosphor bronze Phosphor bronze is a member of the family of copper alloy Copper alloys are metal alloys An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, ...
is particularly suited to precision-grade bearings and springs. It is also used in guitar and piano strings. Unlike steel, bronze struck against a hard surface will not generate sparks, so it (along with
beryllium copper Beryllium copper (BeCu), also known as copper beryllium (CuBe), beryllium bronze and spring copper, is a with 0.5–3% and sometimes other elements. Beryllium copper combines high strength with non-magnetic and non-sparking qualities. It has ...
) is used to make
hammer A hammer is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tool A stone tool is, ...

hammer
s,
mallet A mallet is a tool used for imparting force on another object, often made of rubber Rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'', or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A polymer ...

mallet
s,
wrench A wrench or spanner is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human beings, whose use of ...

wrench
es and other durable tools to be used in explosive atmospheres or in the presence of flammable vapors. Bronze is used to make
bronze wool Bronze wool is a bundle of very fine bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, p ...
for woodworking applications where
steel wool Steel wool, also known as iron wool, wire wool, steel wire or wire sponge, is a bundle of very fine and flexible sharp-edged steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέτ ...

steel wool
would discolour
oak An oak is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including on ...

oak
.
Phosphor bronze Phosphor bronze is a member of the family of copper alloy Copper alloys are metal alloys An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, ...
is used for ships' propellers, musical instruments, and electrical contacts. are often made of bronze for its friction properties. It can be impregnated with oil to make the proprietary Oilite and similar material for bearings.
Aluminium bronze Aluminium bronze is a type of bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polish ...
is hard and wear-resistant, and is used for bearings and machine tool ways.


Sculptures

Bronze is widely used for casting
bronze sculpture Image:Liu Ding.jpg, Chinese ritual bronze, a Late Shang ''Ding (vessel), dǐng''. Bronze is the most popular metal for Casting (metalworking), cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze". It can be used for ...

bronze sculpture
s. Common bronze alloys have the unusual and desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling the finest details of a mould. Then, as the bronze cools, it shrinks a little, making it easier to separate from the mould. The Assyrian king Sennacherib (704–681 BC) claims to have been the first to cast monumental bronze statues (of up to 30 tonnes) using two-part moulds instead of the Lost-wax casting, lost-wax method. Bronze statues were regarded as the highest form of sculpture in Ancient Greek art, though survivals are few, as bronze was a valuable material in short supply in the Late Antique and medieval periods. Many of the most famous Greek bronze sculptures are known through Roman copies in marble, which were more likely to survive. In India, bronze sculptures from the Kushana (Chausa hoard) and Gupta periods (Brahma from Mirpur-Khas, Akota Hoard, Sultanganj Buddha) and later periods (Hansi Hoard) have been found. Indian Hindu artisans from the period of the Chola dynasty, Chola empire in Tamil Nadu used bronze to create intricate statues via the lost-wax casting method with ornate detailing depicting the deities of Hinduism. The art form survives to this day, with many silpis, craftsmen, working in the areas of Swamimalai and Chennai. In antiquity other cultures also produced works of High culture, high art using bronze. For example: in Africa, the Benin Bronzes, bronze heads of the Benin Empire, Kingdom of Benin; in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, Grecian bronzes typically of figures from Greek mythology; in east Asia,
Chinese ritual bronze with zigzag thunder pattern; Early Zhou dynasty; Shanghai Museum , as it is now displayed File:Wine cup (gu), China, Shang dynasty, bronze, Honolulu Academy of Arts.JPG, 310px, ''Gu (vessel), Gū''; Shang dynasty; Honolulu Academy of Arts (Hawa ...
s of the Shang dynasty, Shang and Zhou dynasty—more often ceremonial vessels but including some figurine examples. Bronze sculptures, although known for their longevity, still undergo microbial degradation; such as from certain species of yeasts. Bronze continues into modern times as one of the materials of choice for monumental statuary. File:Dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro.jpg, The ''Dancing Girl (sculpture), Dancing Girl'', an Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan artwork; 2400–1900 BC; bronze; height: 10.8 cm; National Museum, New Delhi, National Museum (New Delhi, India) File:商青銅鼎-Ritual Tripod Cauldron (Ding) MET DP164965.jpg, Chinese ritual bronzes, Ritual tripod cauldron (Ding (vessel), ding); circa 13th century BC; bronze: height with handles: 25.4 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) Kushite Pharaoh MET DT8840.jpg, Ancient Egyptian art, Ancient Egyptian statuette of a Kingdom of Kush, Kushite pharaoh; 713–664 BC; bronze, precious-metal leaf; height: 7.6 cm, width: 3.2 cm, depth: 3.6 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Bronze tripod base for a thymiaterion (incense burner) MET DP21045.jpg, Etruscan civilization, Etruscan tripod base for a thymiaterion (incense burner); 475-450 BC; bronze; height: 11 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:God of Cape Artemision 01.JPG, The ''Artemision Bronze''; 460-450 BC; bronze; height: 2.1 m; National Archaeological Museum, Athens, National Archaeological Museum (Athens) File:Egypt, Greco-Roman Period, probably Ptolemaic Dynasty - Statuette of Isis and Horus - 1940.613 - Cleveland Museum of Art.tif, Ancient Egyptian statuette of Isis and Horus; 305–30 BC; solid cast of bronze; 4.8 × 10.3 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, US) Bronze statue of Eros sleeping MET DP123903.jpg, Ancient Greek art, Ancient Greek statue of Eros sleeping; 3rd–2nd century BC; bronze; 41.9 × 35.6 × 85.2 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art Buddha Offering Protection MET DP-15581-036.jpg, Gupta Empire, Gupta sculpture of Buddha offering protection; late 6th–early 7th century; copper alloy; height: 47 cm, width: 15.6 cm, diameter: 14.3 cm; from India (probably Bihar); Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Caldron MET cdi49-69-6s3.jpg, French or South Netherlandish Medieval caldron; 13th or 14th century; bronze and wrought iron; height: 37.5 cm, diameter: 34.3 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Pair of firedogs (chenets) MET DP170900.jpg, Pair of French Rococo firedogs (chenets); circa 1750; gilt bronze; dimensions of the first: 52.7 x 48.3 x 26.7 cm, of the second: 45.1 x 49.1 x 24.8 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Mantel clock (pendule de chiminée) MET DT6546.jpg, French Neoclassicism, Neoclassical mantel clock (pendule de cheminée); 1757–1760; gilded and patinated bronze, oak veneered with ebony, white enamel with black numerals, and other materials; 48.3 × 69.9 × 27.9 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Pair of firedogs MET DT8904.jpg, Pair of French Chinoiserie firedogs; 1760–1770; gilt bronze; height (each): 41.9 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Pair of vases MET DP170824.jpg, Pair of Chinese vases with French Rococo mounts; the vases: early 18th century, the mounts: 1760–70; hard-paste porcelain with gilt-bronze mounts; 32.4 x 16.5 x 12.4 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Mantel clock ("Pendule Uranie") MET DP346441.jpg, French Neoclassical mantel clock ("Pendule Uranie"); 1764–1770; case: patinated bronze and gilded bronze, Dial: white enamel, movement: brass and steel; 71.1 × 52.1 × 26.7 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Pair of mounted vases (vase à monter) MET DP102639.jpg, Pair of mounted vases (vase à monter); 1765–70; soft-paste porcelain and French gilt bronze; 28.9 x 17.1 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File:Winter MET DP162240.jpg, ''Winter''; by Jean-Antoine Houdon; 1787; bronze; 143.5 x 39.1 x 50.5 cm, height of the pedestal: 86.4 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art


Mirrors

Before it became possible to produce glass with acceptably flat surfaces, bronze was a standard material for mirrors. The reflecting surface was typically made slightly convex so that the whole face could be seen in a small mirror. Bronze was used for this purpose in many parts of the world, probably based on independent discoveries. Bronze mirrors survive from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom of Egypt, Middle Kingdom (2040–1750 BC). In Europe, the Etruscans were making bronze mirrors in the sixth century BC, and Ancient Greece, Greek and Ancient Rome, Roman mirrors followed the same pattern. Although other materials such as
speculum metal Speculum metal is a mixture of around two-thirds copper and one-third tin, making a white brittle alloy that can be polished to make a highly reflective surface. It was used historically to make different kinds of mirrors from personal grooming ai ...
had come into use, bronze mirrors were still being made in Japan in the eighteenth century AD.


Musical instruments

Bronze is the preferred metal for bell (instrument), bells in the form of a high tin bronze alloy known colloquially as
bell metal Bell metal is a hard bronze alloy used for making Bell (instrument), bells and related instruments, such as Cymbal alloys, cymbals. It is a form of bronze with a higher tin content, usually in approximately a 4:1 ratio of copper to tin (typica ...
, which is about 23% tin. Nearly all professional cymbals are made from bronze, which gives a desirable balance of durability and timbre. Several types of bronze are used, commonly B20 (bronze), B20 bronze, which is roughly 20% tin, 80% copper, with traces of silver, or the tougher B8 bronze made from 8% tin and 92% copper. As the tin content in a bell or cymbal rises, the timbre drops. Bronze is also used for the windings of steel and nylon strings of various String instrument, stringed instruments such as the double bass, piano, harpsichord, and guitar. Bronze strings are commonly reserved on pianoforte for the lower pitch tones, as they possess a superior sustain quality to that of high-tensile steel.McCreight, Tim. ''Metals technic: a collection of techniques for metalsmiths''. Brynmorgen Press, 1992. Bronzes of various metallurgical properties are widely used in struck idiophones around the world, notably bells, singing bowls, gongs, cymbals, and other idiophones from Asia. Examples include Tibetan singing bowls, temple bell (instrument), bells of many sizes and shapes, gongs, Javanese people, Javanese gamelan, and other bronze musical instruments. The earliest bronze archeological finds in Indonesia date from 1–2 BC, including flat plates probably suspended and struck by a wooden or bone mallet. Ancient bronze drums from Thailand and Vietnam date back 2,000 years. Bronze bells from
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
and Cambodia date back to 3,600 BC. Some companies are now making saxophones from
phosphor bronze Phosphor bronze is a member of the family of copper alloy Copper alloys are metal alloys An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, ...
(3.5 to 10% tin and up to 1% phosphorus content). Bell bronze/B20 is used to make the tone rings of many professional model banjos.Roger H. Siminoff, ''Siminoff's Luthiers Glossary'' (NY: Hal Leonard, 2008), 13. The tone ring is a heavy (usually 3 lbs.) folded or arched metal ring attached to a thick wood rim, over which a skin, or most often, a plastic membrane (or head) is stretched – it is the bell bronze that gives the banjo a crisp powerful lower register and clear bell-like treble register.


Biblical references

There are 139 references to bronze in the Bible, such as the account of Moses holding up a bronze snake on a pole in the Book of Numbers, chapter 21.


Coins and medals

Bronze has also been used in coins; most "copper" coins are actually bronze, with about 4 percent tin and 1 percent zinc. As with coins, bronze has been used in the manufacture of various types of medals for centuries, and are known in contemporary times for being awarded for third place in sporting competitions and other events. The later usage was in part attributed to the choices of gold, silver and bronze to represent the first three Ages of Man in Greek mythology: the Golden Age, when men lived among the gods; the Silver age, where youth lasted a hundred years; and the Greek Heroic Age, Bronze Age, the era of heroes, and was first adopted at the 1904 Summer Olympics. At the 1896 event, silver was awarded to winners and bronze to runners-up, while at 1900 other prizes were given rather than medals.


See also


References


External links

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Bronze bells


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Viking Bronze – Ancient and Early Medieval bronze casting
{{Authority control Bronze, Copper alloys Tin alloys