According to ancient documents and modern day historians, the mining and production of silver began more than 5000 years ago. Ancient references to silver can be traced back to the biblical book of Genesis (13:2), as well as other ancient writings such as the one’s found in ancient Sumerian text.
Historical records indicate that the first silver mines were created in the country of Turkey around or before 3000 B.C. and that silver mines were later developed in Greece around 1200 B.C. In that time, Greece was the worlds primary producer of silver. Modern technology and excavation supports the belief that ancient metal workers used the cupellation technique to refine the precious white metal.
Roughly 1300 years after Greece’s Laurium mines had been Europe’s primary center for silver production, Spain took over as the worlds next major silver producer, eventually becoming known as the “capital of silver production" in that era.
Silver was used by traders in commerce along the Asian trade routes for valuable items, necessities, and spices that included but were not limited to ginger, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cassia among other commonly traded goods. Obviously, silver was not only used as a medium-of-exchange, it was also used for jewelry, ornaments, decorations, and religious rituals.
Herodotus the historian wrote that silver was used as a drinking vessel for kings during the time of Cirrus in the Persian Empire. He told us that no king would drink water that had not been stored in silver containers. This information gives us a strong indication that silver was used as a method of water purification around 530 B.C. In our modern age (2016) silver is used in water purification systems to prevent and disinfect algea, bacteria, and viruses among other harmful organisms.
In 69 B.C. Rome published a pharmacopeia that mentioned the use of silver for medical treatments, but other historically provided documentation has suggested that the Macedonians were the first to use silver in their routine medical practices. It is also noted by other resources that the ancient Egyptians and Greeks were using silver for food and water preservation over 4,000 years ago.
Somewhere between 711 A.D. and 1200 A.D. the supply and demand of silver continued to grow larger which had eventually led to more silver mines being discovered in the Eastern Europian regions. By the time 1500 A.D. had neared, the extraction techniques of silver miners had become more enhanced and efficient; therefore the precious element was being produced at much higher rates. During the next 300 years following 1500 A.D. silver mines, silver supplies, and silver demand had expanded exponentially through-out Europe, South America, and Central America.
In the early 1800’s it was estimated that Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia accounted for eighty-five percent of the world’s total annual silver production and near the middle of the 19th century (1858), the United States began producing silver after discovering the Comstock Lode in the Virginia Range on Mount Davidson which was located in the western territory of Utah (modern day Nevada).
By the early 1900’s several new silver producing countries contributed to the global total annual production of silver which was at almost 190,000,000 troy ounces. Those countries included Canada, Japan, Chili, and Africa, as well as a few others to name. By the 1940’s the United States had already marketed at least 40 medicinal products that contained silver. While there is still a vast amount of information about Silver that has not been disclosed here, we can still conclude that this precious element has played a significant role throughout all known ages of human history.
Silver has earned its reputation as a precious metal because it’s rare and unique compared to all other metals. It's considered to be a noble metal because it offers the best thermal conductivity (greater than copper) and because silver provides the highest electrical conductivity compared to all other periodic elements. Silver also resists corrosion and oxidization.
Facts about silver:
Silver has the atomic number 47 and its symbol is Ag.
Silver's melting point is 961.78°C, 1763.2°F, 1234.93 K
Silver's boiling point is 2162°C, 3924°F, 2435 K
Silver has a density of 10.5
Silver's relative atomic mass is 107.868
Silver's electron configuration is [Kr] 4d105s1
The common modern day uses of silver include:
Jewelry - Rings, Necklaces, Pendants, Crowns, Buttons, Anklets.
Coins - Pre 1964 U.S. dimes, Quarters, Silver Dollars, Government Mints, Private Mints.
Bullion - rounds, bars, ingots, silverware.
Electronics - wiring, circuitry, solar, industrial, photography, sensors, RFID, radio connectors, super conductors, military weapononry
Medical - radiology, urology, dental, dermatology, surgical, implants, purification systems, antifungal, and much more!