Chemistry - Discovery of Elements


  • Most likely copper was the first element, which was mined and used by humans.

  • The evidence of earliest use of copper was found in Anatolia, which belongs to 6,000 BCE.

  • The lead was most likely the second element that humans start using.

  • The oldest known artifact of lead is statuette, which was found in a temple of Osiris, Abydos, Egypt.

  • The statuette of Osiris temple belongs to (about) 3,800 BCE.

  • The oldest known gold treasure was discovered in Varna, Necropolis (Bulgaria).

  • This gold treasure belongs to (about) 4,400 BCE.

  • Discovery of silver is almost same as of gold; its evidence was found in Asia Minor.

  • Some evidence say that the iron was known from (about) 5,000 BCE.

  • The oldest known iron objects, which was used by the humans, were found in Egypt (belongs to 4000 BCE).

  • The following table illustrates the significant elements with their discovery date and discovers −

Element Discoverer Discovery Date
Copper Middle East (Place) About 9,000 BCE
Lead Egypt (Place) About 7,000 BCE
Gold Bulgaria (Place) About 6,000 BCE
Silver Asia Minor (Place) About 5,000 BCE
Iron Egypt (Place) About 5,000 BCE
Tin About 3,500 BCE
Sulfur Chinese/India About 2,000 BCE
Mercury Egypt 2,000 BCE
Phosphorus H. Brand 1669
Cobalt G. Brandt 1735
Platinum A. de Ulloa 1748
Nickel F. Cronstedt 1751
Bismuth C.F. Geoffroy 1753
Magnesium J. Black 1755
Hydrogen H. Cavendish 1766
Oxygen W. Scheele 1771
Nitrogen D. Rutherford 1772
Barium W. Scheele 1772
Chlorine W. Scheele 1774
Manganese W. Scheele 1774
Molybdenum W. Scheele 1781
Tungsten W. Scheele 1781
Zirconium H. Klaproth 1789
Uranium H. Klaproth 1789
Titanium W. Gregor 1791
Chromium N. Vauquelin 1797
Beryllium N. Vauquelin 1798
Vanadium M. del Río 1801
Potassium H. Davy 1807
Sodium H. Davy 1807
Calcium H. Davy 1808
Boron L. Gay-Lussac and L.J. Thénard 1808
Fluorine A. M. Ampère 1810
Iodine B. Courtois 1811
Lithium A. Arfwedson 1817
Cadmium S. L Hermann, F. Stromeyer, and J.C.H. Roloff 1817
Selenium J. Berzelius and G. Gahn 1817
Silicon J. Berzelius 1823
Aluminium H.C.Ørsted 1825
Bromine J. Balard and C. Löwig 1825
Thorium J. Berzelius 1829
Lanthanum G. Mosander 1838
Rubidium R. Bunsen and G. R. Kirchhoff 1861
Thallium W. Crookes 1861
Indium F. Reich and T. Richter 1863
Helium P. Janssen and N. Lockyer 1868
Neon W. Ramsay and W. Travers 1898
Xenon W. Ramsay and W. Travers 1898
Fermium A. Ghiorso et al 1952
Nobelium E. D. Donets, V. A. Shchegolev and V. A. Ermakov 1966
Dubnium A. Ghiorso, M. Nurmia, K. Eskola, J. Harris and P. Eskola 1970
Tennessine Y. Oganessian et al 2010