The History of Gold

November 9, 2021
Written by Peter Anderson

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The History of Gold

When was gold first discovered in the world?

 Gold is no doubt one of the most precious minerals, with miners working day and night to find it with the hope of winning the "jackpot" and making their lives better. 

Many people have written and re-written the history of gold, and it is not hard to see why.

As a fact, who wouldn't want to be among the few who discovered or knew about this precious metal? 

According to historians, gold was dispersed widely throughout various parts of the geologic world. 

As a result, its overall onset and discovery have been a controversial topic. 

 It is also believed that the first traces of gold, which appeared as small shinny yellow nuggets, were discovered in the Kingdom of Lydia (modern-day Turkey) in 564 BC. 

However, it was not until 2450-2600 B.C. when the "Gold of Troy" was discovered in Turkey.

 Additionally, during the same period, gold was found in Ancient Egypt and smelted by goldsmiths, where it was used as a symbol of class and wealth. 

Egyptians relied on slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war to mine gold at a period of time when gold did not have much monetary value. 

On the contrary, gold was sought after primarily due to its high desirability as an ornamental or class metal. 

Gold Bars

 A gold bar, often known as gold ingot or gold bullion, is a quantity of highly refined metallic gold made by a gold bar producer that meets standard conditions of manufacture, record, labeling, and keeping.

When gold started being used as a form of money, it was known as a gold standard where the value of money was defined based on the value of gold. Now, the use of gold in the modern world stretches farther than just a value of money. 

 The early forms of gold ingots date back to the rise of Ancient Rome, where the Romans used it as a currency in Mesopotamia as early as the 7th Millenia. 

Additionally, in ancient Rome, references to gold bars were made by Emperor Nero, who describes gold in the form of shapeless ingots. 

Even though this was seen as a way for Emperor Nero to boost his source of wealth, it illustrated the presence of gold bars in the ancient years

Ancient References

 Gold was the first precious metal known to people, and its discovery changed the overall outlook of various things including the healthcare industry

For instance, upon its discovery, it was used as a form of a commodity to oversee barter trade.

 Additionally, it was used as an ornamental metal where kings and queens wore as to illustrate class.

 Egyptians created detailed gold routes that provided crucial information on where to find goldmines and subsequent gold

Egyptians, unlike the Greeks, were responsible for overseeing numerous aspects of gold advancement. 

For example, the Egyptians were the first humans to smelt, craft, and design alloy metals from gold. Additionally, they oversaw the formulation of the first gold ratio in relation to other metals.

For instance, they equated one gold piece to two and a half pieces of silver. 

 Gold was largely responsible for overseeing the creation of the money concept.

This gave rise to the creation of the first gold coins in early 700 BC.

Later on, standardized gold coins would eventually be used as a form of currency which would later replace barter trade.

By 564 BC, King Croesus of Lydia would subsequently oversee the advancement of gold refining techniques, thus leading to the establishment of the first gold currency. 

The gold was retrieved from deposits obtained from River Pactolis, which ran through the city of Sardis. Even though this form of gold was crude, it was good enough to suit its purpose as a source of wealth and as an ornament

As a result, the city of Lydia grew rich by exporting gold coins, and through the leadership of King Croesus, the minted gold coins became a source of trade and were accepted throughout Greece, Minor, and Asia. 

As a fact, the term "rich as Croesus" is used to describe the immense wealth that King Croesus amassed as a result of mining gold. 

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Who Discovered Gold?

Even though most ancient people take credit for the discovery of gold and jobs created by gold, historians and archeologists believe that the first traces of gold were discovered by ancient Mesopotamians in Egypt between 2450-2600 B.C. 

What was gold first used for?

 In ancient times, gold was mainly used for ornamental purposes due to its brilliance and permanence appearance. 

Additionally, it was linked to royalty and deities in early civilization. 

People in early civilizations equated gold with rulers and gods, and as a result, it was the most sought-after metal. 

The presence of gold in a homestead was viewed as a source of power, culture, elite, and beauty. 

In ancient Egypt, gold always went on par with power and beauty. 

For instance, it was made into idols and shrines, cups, plates, and vessels of all sorts. 

As a fact, in 1223 BC, pure gold was used to construct the iconic Tutankhamen's tomb

The iconic aspect of King Tutankhamen's sculpture lies in the fact that the entire sculpture was made from 24 pounds of gold. 

Ancient Egyptian sculptors made the mask with the sole purpose of showing or illustrating the wealth of King Tutankhamen.

There is also a belief that the Biblical Solomon Temple was built using gold.

The value of gold was accepted globally, and today, as it was in ancient times, gold is still valued highly as it has been used as a commodity that has measurable unit value.

 Ancient Greeks also used gold as a form of currency and as a status of wealth. For instance, the Greeks, just like the Romans, made their coins from gold and silver.

An interesting aspect about these coins is that they had various depictions from Greek mythology, a clear indication of how gold was viewed in the ancient periods. 

Where does gold come from?

 The origin of gold is another controversial topic since there is a doctrine that gold was dispersed in different regions across the world, with ancient goldsmiths discovering traces of gold in rivers and caves.

Whereas most metals tend to be found in ore bodies, gold is usually found in pure and easily workable states.

There is also a believe that gold was formed as a result of supernova nucleosynthesis, which was caused by the collision of neutron stars. 

 Ancient gold miners relied on water to wash off impurities such as dust and gold flakes which were heavier than water.

Miners would later hang the golden fleeces and leave them to dry before shaking them off to get gold pellets.

Other methods used to extract gold were through extraction methods such as dredging, hard rock mining, sluicing, and panning.