There is an Old Italian proverb that holds true even today, “Where gold speaks every tongue is silent.” Few metals that have held such a fascination for humans throughout history like yellow gold. No one knows for sure when the first human discovered this precious metal, but there have been particles of gold discovered in Paleolithic caves that date as far back as 40,000 B.C.
Gold is a metal that is found on every continent on Earth and has been treasured for its natural beauty and radiance. From ancient to modern times we have placed a high value on gold, equating it with beauty, power and the cultural elite. The intrinsic appeal and quest for this precious element is well documented in texts as well as the artifacts of shrines, idols and jewelry discovered from ancient history and cultures.
Around 3,000 B.C. the first real confirmed evidence of human’s interaction and value of gold was in ancient Egypt. Gold played such a big role in ancient Egyptian mythology and was highly prized by pharaohs and temple priests. Pharaoh’s tombs were laden with vast amounts of gold so that they would have it in the afterlife.
Early civilizations equated gold with gods and rulers, and the precious metal was sought in their name and dedicated to their glorification. To the ancient Turkish gold was owned by the powerful and well connected. It was also used to make objects of worship or to decorate sacred locations. Ancient Greeks regarded gold as a social status symbol of wealth.
The origins of gold as money date back to King Croesus of Lydia (an area that is now part of Turkey) and the Lydian merchants who produced the first coins. Measured out, gold became money. The ease by which it could be melted, formed, and measured made it a natural trading medium, and gold gave rise to the actual concept of money itself. The ancient standardized coins came to replace the former barter arrangements.
In relatively modern times, the Gold Rush of the mid 1800’s in North America had profound effects both positive and negative on population, agricultural, industrial and transportation development on the continent and internationally. The demographic and environmental changes greatly influenced the history of both California and the United States in a relatively short period of time.
Gold continues to be one of the world’s most sought-after minerals, prized for its value and unique qualities. Most frequently we associate gold with jewelry, but many people are not aware of the element’s versatility and significant contributions to daily life. From the fastest technology to the most sophisticated medical equipment, gold is a vital resource. Without gold, our GPS and satellite technology could not navigate as quickly, it provides protection to our astronauts from harmful radiation as well as it use in the technology behind life-supporting medical equipment.
Although gold is one of the rarest of the elements, it is an enduring metal. It is estimated that all the gold ever mined from the earth and converted into metal, at least 90 percent still can be accounted for in bullion bars, coins, jewelry and objects of art. There is a wise quote that applies from the ancient to modern age. “Gold is a constant. It is like a North Star.”