Platinum and Platinum Group Metals are some of the most crucial and sought after metals in modern day civilizations. While platinum and palladium are used in catalytic converters, electronics and the medical industry, mankind only discovered its use for those applications rather recently. Humans have used platinum since the ancient Egyptian era, but it’s true beauty was uncovered much later along the line.
The Ancient Egyptians are said to be the first civilizations to use platinum. The Casket of Thebes was created with gold, silver and platinum and dated back to 700BC. The Egyptians never mentioned platinum, as they assumed they were using silver due to the similarities in their physical properties. Platinum was officially discovered in the mid 1500’s and first documented by a European man named Julius Caesar Scaliger. Scaliger traveled to Central America and found the natives wearing jewelry made of “platina” translated to “little silver”. Platina was seen as a nuisance because the natives preferred to mine gold, but the platina would often get in the way.
Julius Caesar Scaliger is not officially credited for the discovery of platinum during the mid 1500’s; the official discovery of platinum came in 1735. Spanish naval officer Antonio de Ulloa is credited for the discovery of platinum. While traveling through Colombia and Peru, he found mines that held white nuggets and brought them back to Spain. A little over a decade passed and Ulloa decided to create Spain’s first mineralogy lab. It was here that they started the process of systematically researching the metal. Platinum was officially an established element by 1774. As more and more information was available, the general public was able to get a fine grasp on the physical traits of platinum.
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