a Chinese compass from approximately 300-200 B.C.E. The spoon shape was made from lodestone and could spin on the smooth plate beneath it, pointing south. Our long and rich history with magnetism is the result of a combination of conditions. One is that iron is a common element in Earth's structure from core to crust. Iron has an arrangement of electrons that makes it possible to develop and maintain magnetism. Iron found in the crust as magnetite can be magnetic. It is also a peculiarity of the Earth that it is magnetic. The ability to use a magnet as a compass made exploration easier and magnetism more important.