I recently was in need of zinc for an experiment. So I resorted to obtain it from some dry cell. But I wondered if it was pure zinc or was it ZnO2ZnOX2 or any other compound of ZnZn. It then occurred to me that I had knowledge of existence of pure ZnZn and its compounds, but how would its discovery have happened without the prior knowledge of its existence?
How did scientists discover the elements without knowing of their existence and unique properties?
Modern day scientists rely on technology and advanced nuclear physics. But in absence of these advances, how were ancient scientists able to discover them?