The ancient Egyptians were renowned for their advanced understanding of science, mathematics, and engineering. One little-known example of their ingenuity was their early use of copper wire. In this article, I will explore how the ancient Egyptians produced copper wire, the applications they used it for, and why this technology was eventually forgotten.

How the Ancient Egyptians Made Copper Wire

Copper was commonly mined in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. After extracting raw copper ore, Egyptian metalworkers learned to smelt the ore into pure copper ingots. These ingots could then be hammered and annealed repeatedly to form thin sheets or rods.

To make copper wire, the Egyptians would hammer a copper rod to stretch it lengthwise. The rod would be periodically annealed by heating it red-hot and allowing it to slowly cool. This process made the copper soft and malleable again after becoming work-hardened by hammering.

Thin rods less than 2 mm in diameter could be created this way. The Egyptians also devised drawplates - metal plates with holes of decreasing size. By pulling a copper rod through progressively smaller holes, the diameter was incrementally reduced while lengthening the wire.

The Egyptians became so adept at making copper wire that they could produce wires as thin as 1 mm in diameter. For an ancient civilization using only manual tools, this was an impressive feat of metallurgy.

The Brilliant Uses of Copper Wire in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians found many clever uses for their homemade copper wire:

Why We Forgot the Egyptian Art of Copper Wiring

Clearly, the ancient Egyptians were very advanced in drawing and working copper into fine wires for a multitude of applications. Yet somehow, this technology was forgotten and not widely rediscovered until the 19th century AD. There are a few key reasons why the knowledge was lost:

So despite the advances of the ancient Egyptians, copper wiremaking was an art that evaporated from the collective knowledge base of humanity. We had to gradually reinvent methods for making copper wire thousands of years later during the modern Industrial Revolution.


The ancient Egyptians were pioneers in drawing copper into thin wires and using this material in ingenious ways. From jewelry to plumbing, musical instruments to saws, copper wire found many applications in early Egyptian society. Unfortunately, this technology was forgotten over centuries and not resurrected until the 1800s. Nevertheless, it shows the impressive ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians in metallurgy and crafts. They achieved complex wire manufacture using only manual tools - a feat not replicated again until the advent of modern machinery. This forgotten chapter in the history of technology reveals the resourcefulness of the early Egyptian civilization.