An element with atomic number 26, symbol Fe, atomic weight 55.85, mp 1528ºC, specific gravity 7.87. A heavy whitish metal and one of the most abundant and widely distributed. Iron was probably first known in the form of meteoric iron, which usually contains some nickel. Extraction by the bloomery process became established in Asia Minor in the late 2nd millennium BC, and the technology seems to have spread out from this centre, reaching Britain in the west by the 7th century BC, and China in the East by the 8th century BC. In China the blast furnace process (or indirect process) was developed some time in the 5th century BC.