The story of mercury can be traced back to prehistoric times. A precise dating is, however, impossible because reliable written records are lacking . The first evidences of the use of mercury originate from the ancient Chinese, who used the metal and its principal ore cinnabar as a medicine to prolong life  and cinnabar for the preparation of red ink . Often the Hindus , the Egyptians [5, 6], the Hettities , and the Assyrians  were credited with the use of mercury. Positive proofs for this assumption are, however, still lacking [9, 10]. The metal is said to have been known very early in Persia [9, 11] but a chronological assignment is impossible . The Phoenicians exploited cinnabar in Spain from the 8th century B.C. but there is no direct evidence of their involvement with the metal . In the 5th century B.C. cinnabar was used as a pigment by the Greeks [13, 15] but Aristotle is reputed to be the first in Europe who mentioned the metal itself .
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