History Of Gold

 History Of Gold

At some unknown time during the Stone Age, man learned to value of gold for its unusual qualities. Gold's color, Luster, malleability, and ability to withstand corrosion make it unusual among metals. And its relative scarcity has caused it to be even more sought-after. The psalmist who wrote the comparison "more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold" revealed an appreciation of the metal that has characterized men in all ages.

Stone Age man used nuggets of native gold for ornaments or jewelry, and in trying to fashion these bits of placer gold to suit his taste, he learned something about metallurgy. He found that gold because of its softness could be hammered into a desired form. It could be melted in a furnace, and while molten could be cast into a new shape. Later, the essentials of smelting the fact that gold could be melted out of rock were discovered.

early sources of Gold. By at least the 4th millennium, gold was being sought successfully though both placer and vein ( lode ) mining, and by the time of the early cultures from which modern civilization is descended, the search for gold was widespread. Arabia, India, Persia, Caucasia, Asia Minor, the Balkans, and many parts of Africa contributed to the ancient world's supply of this highly valued metal, but all were subordiante in significance to the output of the mines operated in Nubia by the Egyptians. More than 100 of these mines, which were worked by slaves and captives, have been found in the Nubian Desert. They constituted the main source of the gold used in antiquity and were an important reason for the power of the successive rulers of Egypt, who jealously retained a state monopoly over gold mining.

Early gold objects usually had an admixture of impurities, especially silver. In the 7th century, when the art of refining was well developed, the kings of Lydia, in Western Asia, began issuing coins of gold that were guaranted royal stamp as assurance to the trading community that their value was as claimed. By thus putting gold to work as coinage, the ancient world enhanced still further the value of the metal. Gold became synonymous with purity and richness. The myth of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece probably has its origin in a raid upon miners who were using sheepskins to catch fragments of gold, just as some modern gold washing has employed blankets.

Whether there were real " rushes " of wouldbe miners in these early centuries seems doubtful. A " rush " requires a large number of men who are free agents, able to respond quickly to the lure of alleged gold discoveries. Yet as the German physician Georgius Agricola points out, in the great mining treatise that he completed ini 1550 " in former days " miners were worked by slaves, serfs, and convicts.

To be continued . . .

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