Tin has been a known and well-utilized metal since the Bronze Age (around 3500 BC). Bronze, a copper–tin alloy, first appeared in the Middle East although there were no tin mines in that region, a fact that constitutes a historical enigma. Pure tin was produced in China and Japan around 1800 BC. Tin cutlery was frequently used in France around the 17th century, but such usage occasionally led to accidents due to traces of arsenic found in the metal.
At the beginning of the 19th century Appert discovered that food products could be preserved in airtight vessels after being heated; this observation eventually led to the so-called tin cans.
The word tin comes from the Latin stannum. The Greeks called the metal κασσιτερο (kassiteros), hence the name of cassiterite given to its ore. The word bronze comes from the town of Brindisi in Italy.