Copper has played an extremely important role in the development of civilizations. Copper objects - jewellery, tools and weapons - have been found dating back to 9000 BC in Anatolia and to 6000 BC in Iran. It is not exactly known where and when copper started to be produced from oxidised ores, but the process seems to have been well established around 5500 BC in the Sumerian region and towards 4500-3500 BC in the Nile Valley. Hence, the Copper Age is believed to have started around 5000 BC. These civilisations later moved to more complex copper alloys and thus introduced the Bronze Age.
The name ‘copper’ is actually derived from the Romans and their mining in Cyprus, where the metal was called cyprium, which was later converted to cuprum. From the 13th to 15th centuries a prosperous copper and brass industry developed in Belgium, especially in the Meuse Valley.