From the very earliest of tools to the latest high tech gadgets, mankind has had to make use of the resources available when building his magnificent creations. Some of the materials available to us are better at the job they do than others, and some are so useful that they have found uses all over the world. Of the countless materials that we have at our disposal there are only a few that have become synonymous with the advancement of mankind. Without some of these materials, mankind may not have the culture that it does today

Flint
Flint

A completely natural resource, flint is one of the very first materials that man put to good use. By chipping away to sculpt the desired shape and create sharp edges, early man was able to create an invaluable tool that it would use for hundreds of thousands of years. Although we no longer use flint tools, they can still be found throughout the world as a testament to just how important they were to ancient people. Flint can still be found used today in lighters as they can create the spark need for ignition.

Stone
Stone

In days gone by, entire cities would be protected by stone castles which could resist against attack from invaders. Stone ruins dating hundreds or even thousands of years can still be found across the planet and some stone buildings can be found in surprisingly good condition.

Oak
Oak

Of all the woods that are used around the world, oak is arguably the most important of them all. As a very strong building material, Oak was used to construct great buildings and is even used in construction sometimes to this very day. Great ships were often made from Oak, which enabled man to explore further and discover new civilisations. Oak is also a very attractive material so it can often be found as a material used to make furniture. If you are looking for a naturally occurring material that has strength and looks great, Oak is a good place to start.

Iron and Steel
Iron

As extremely strong materials, iron and steel gave man even greater construction options. Wooden ships soon gave way to those made from iron and steel as the metal versions offered much greater strength and protection. Iron and steel was also being used to construct building and thanks to their strength, much larger and grander buildings could be constructed. Steel is in fact and alloy that is made using iron, which is the reason why the two are closely associated with each other. Steel has a number of advantages over iron such as being slightly lighter, more flexible, rust resistant and better looking. Steel in particular is such a valuable resource to man that it is still used today in even the most high-tech of projects.

Aluminium
Aluminium

Lightweight and very flexible, aluminium is a material that is also extremely useful to mankind. The flexibility of aluminium means aluminium foil has found its way into kitchens across the globe as a perfect way to cover foods to keep them fresh. Its lightweight nature makes it ideal for constructing high-tech vehicles as the lower weight helps to improve fuel efficiency. Aluminium is a naturally occurring metal which has no apparent uses in biology, which means it is also non-toxic.

Even some of the more ancient materials available to us are still used today, and they may well continue to be used for some time yet. One thing for sure is that much of what we now take for granted has helped to shape the world as we know it.

From stone castles to steel beams, we owe much of our quality of life to the natural materials that we find around us every single day.

Photo credit: Matti Mattila, Hindrik S, the-tml and fatboyke (Luc).