The Importance of Gold In Ancient Civilisations

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Precious Metals have been a valuable resource for many cultures for more centuries going back to ancient cultures and civilizations. You’ve seen them in museums, those ornate golden statues and golden jewelleries and golden cats and sarcophagi. Many have marvelled at the craftsmanship, the ingenuity that went into creating these works of art. They marvel at how centuries ago men figured out how to extract gold, how to shape and mould it into whatever they wanted.

gold has a lot of special qualities that no other metal on earth has. it does not corrode and for that reason it became a symbol of immortality for many ancient cultures. gold’s rarity and aesthetic properties made it an ideal metal for the affluent, ruling classes to use it to demonstrate their position and power.

gold was first found in Asia minor in rivers like the Pactolus in Lydia which is now in modern-day turkey, gold was later mined underground by the Egyptians from 2000bce and then later by the romans who plundered Spain, Portugal and Africa in search of the precious yellow metal.

There is evidence of early alloying with other ores like iron pyrite as well as copper and silver to strengthen the otherwise soft pure form and to change gold into various colours.

Ancient mining was a long, brutal and expensive process. Once man discovered gold and decided it had a particular value in society, it became something that everyone coveted. However, it was not easy to mine gold and extract gold from earth’s core. Tools were hard to come by, labour was expensive and demand has always been high. Not only where ancient civilisations using gold to make things for themselves, they were using it to trade.

Most of the metals that were mined were recycled or reused to make new things because the cost of getting mined gold was so high. This is no different to what is currently happening. Much of the gold gets recycled either through gold buyers who sell it to refineries. The gold you take to a pawn shop could also be part of that gold that gets recycled by refineries.

Egyptians used more metals than gold. They used copper to make tools, weapons, statues, vessels and various ornaments. They used Silver, imported tin and iron, however gold was highly revered. They believed the yellow metal was the flesh of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Goldsmiths made all sorts of jewellery, death masks, ornamental weapons and gold to adorn tombs. Some objects were purely decorative or meant to show the wealth and stature of the person buried, but most of it had some spiritual significance. So jewellery was important. However there was a strong naturally-occurring “gold” alloy known as Electrum which consisted of gold, some silver and copper to make thrones, tables volume thrones and amulets. Electrum was not as common then and it is still not common today. The primary source of Electrum is in Anatolia.

The Egyptians were the first to come up with a method to determine the purity of gold. This is called fire assaying and it involve firing the test material in a crucible with some lead. The crucible made of bone ash would absorb the lead and other metals leaving gold and silver. Nitric acid was used to remove the silver leaving behind pure gold. Archimedes discovered that the amount of base metals affects the specific gravity of gold.

For centuries people have tried to produce their own gold by using alchemy. Apparently, the philosopher’s stone is more than a myth. In China during 4th Century BCE and in Greece, alchemists tried using the philosopher’s stone also known as lapis philosophorum. Although the efforts were unsuccessful, they still laid the foundations for chemistry.

While we have a lot of information on how ancient Egyptians used gold and other materials, a lot of the information has been lost over time. A lot of the old gold was melted down and a lot of the tombs have been looted. What remains tells an incomplete history of gold. A lot of value was placed on the workmanship because gold items had a deeper meaning. These days there is less thought and finesse placed on gold-smithing. What you are most likely to find are mass-produce gold items. These are items you are most likely to find in a pawn shop. Pawnbrokers like items that are in great demand like gold necklaces and gold rings. If you have gold that you want to sell because you need quick cash, you can always find a pawn shop that will give you cash for your gold.

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