Who discovered silver? No one actually knows exactly who discovered the chemical element silver or when it was discovered, but there is evidence it was known to the ancients. The name originates from an Old English Word – seolfor.

The symbol for silver, Ag, comes from the Latin word argentum. In fact, the term silver is possibly first mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis.

The Element Silver

Silver is an element in Group 11 in the Periodic Table of Elements, known as transition metals. * As element number 47, it is one of only nine other elements that were known to ancient civilizations. Silver is a very soft and malleable metal, and as with other transition metals, it conducts electricity and heat.
Silver is obtained from metal ores, including argentite, light ruby silver, dark ruby silver and brittle silver.

Early Discoveries Of Silver

Even thought we don’t know who discovered silver, there are records that indicate slag dumps were found in Asia Minor and on the islands in the Aegean Sea. These findings lead to the belief that as early as 4000 B.C. man was able to separate silver from lead.

Silver also is known by an alchemical symbol — ‚. Alchemy is an ancient pursuit that, among other things, refers to the attempt to transform other metals, including silver, into gold. So, no matter who discovered silver, we know that it was a known element thousands of years ago.

First Locations Of Silver Discovery

Though we don’t know who discovered silver, a clue to the location silver was first mined is recorded by The Silver Institute, which sites Old World silver from Anatolia (modern Turkey) as the first major source of mined silver. Beginning in 4000 B.C. silver from Anatolia provided rich supplies to the craftsmen of the, then, “Western” cultures in the Near East, Crete and Greece.

The next concentrated mining efforts are recorded after 3000 B.C. About 2500 B.C. the Chaldeans used a mining process called “cupellation” to extract silver from lead-silver ores.

Silver was widely used for household goods, as well as silver jewelry and other personal embellishments. An expanding need by two flourishing civilizations – the Minoan’s and the Mycenaean’s – stimulated the discovery and mining of vast silver deposits in what we now know as Armenia.

A significant discovery of silver ore occurred in what was then known as the “New World” in 1492, and from 1500 to 1800 Bolivia, Peru and Mexico supplied 85% of the world’s silver. The native american indians where early pioneers in the use of silver, you can visit Native Tribes Jewelry for information about authentic handmade Native American silver and turquoise jewelry form the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes of the American southwest.
Rapidly developing technology from 1876 to 1920 contributed to exploitation of new worldwide silver supplies from Australia, Central America and Europe to Canada, the U.S. and Africa. In the last quarter of the 19th century, silver production quadrupled over the average of the first 75 years (1800 -1875) reaching nearly 120 million troy ounces per year.

Progression Of Silver Prices

The Gold Information Network has charted the progression of silver prices through the ages, again emphasizing the fact that silver has been a mined ore for centuries. And though we don’t know who discovered silver, we know its importance in world commerce is immense. The chart begins in 1344 and continues through present day. When calculated in 1998 dollars, real silver prices have had an extremely volatile, but steadily declining, history.

Year   Price/Troy Ounce Key Happening
1344  $400  European Mines Opened
1484  $806  All Time Highest Prices
1545  $375  New World Mines Discovered
1884  $80  Western U.S. Mines Opened
1992  $4.73  All Time Lowest Prices
September 2007  $13.15  2007 Silver Prices

Who discovered silver? That’s still up to debate, but further technological advances in mining production during the last century have contributed to a vast expansion of worldwide silver mining and an increasing number of uses for this element.


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