Mercury has been used since at least 1500BC in ancient Egyptian tombs. It was used as a red pigment. Mercury was also used by numerous ancient civilizations to scare away evil spirits. Starting in the 15th century, mercury was also used as a cure for syphilis. It was in the 18th century that Antoinne-Laurent de Lavoisier discovered that mercury is a chemical element.
Mercury was not used as a red pigment; its primary ore, cinnabar, mercury sulfide, was. Native mercury, the liquid pure element, exists (but is quite rare) and was known to the ancients.
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