Bronze is a metal alloy made from two types of metal, copper and tin. The amount of copper and tin used to differ, so the quality of bronze was different.
Bronze was the first alloy that man used and has therefore been there before 3000 BC. This is how the name ‘Bronze Age’ came.
Copper by itself is too soft and tools cannot be made out of them. Tin is too easily broken. When they are mixed, the Bronze is stronger than both of them are.
During the ancient civilizations, Bronze was used mainly for weapons and armour. The weapons were lighter and sharper than some metals, but still bronze blades were mostly used to stab people and not in sword fights because then it would break.
The armour was made from bronze was lighter and stronger than the leather than the soldiers were wearing before that.
Since bronze is the result of two metals mixed, over a long time certain properties of either of the two metals begin to show.
Copper turns green when it reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere (corroding, like iron rusting) so bronze, with a high amount of copper too turns green after a while.
When this happens, especially during the olden days, the bronze was melted down and recycled by a bronze smith so new things can be made. Therefore, there are not many ancient bronze artefacts anymore.
Generally however, if the proportion of copper is just right, bronze does not corrode so easily and especially when mixed with small amounts of other metals it is great for mechanical engineering tools such as nuts, bolts, valves and bushings.
Many parts of machines still include parts of bronze, and since it takes a longer time to corrode than rust (and copper) parts that constantly are exposed to water, (and especially salt water, like on boats and ships) are made of bronze.
Bronze is also a great conductor of electricity and heat, and in fact does the job better than most steels. Bronze has also been used in the art of making coins (coinage) and statues.
Today many other metals are mixed with bronze to give us other alloys such as aluminium bronze, leaded bronze, silicon bronze, and phosphorous bronze.
When the term ‘bronze’ is used with the name of another, metal like that, ‘bronze’ refers to mostly copper. The other word tells us the other ingredient that was mixed with it.
Therefore, for example, aluminium bronze would be a mixture of aluminium, and copper.
The variety of physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of bronze lends it a valuable metal alloy.