Metallurgy is the study of the properties of metals and the methods used to separate metal deposits from metal-bearing ores. Through the course of history, artisans have switched the materials from which they constructed weapons and tools to harder, more durable metals as they were discovered. However, metallurgy as a science wasn't studied in earnest until the powers of Europe began to compete against one another in an attempt to design better and more effective weapons starting around the 14th century. Constant improvements in metallurgy led to the discovery of new metals and alloys that were stronger, lighter, and cheaper. As a result of this race for military dominance, Europeans produced some of the most advanced weaponry in the world during this time period.