The History of Gold
Gold has a long and complex history. From the time of the discovery of gold, it has symbolized wealth and ensured power. Gold alone has over-powered many men and numerous nations. Gold has managed to destroy some cultures while providing power to others. Well before gold turned into such a precious commodity it began and a shinny stone picked up by a child or passerby only to be admired for its lovely color and shape.
Archaeological digs show us that the use of gold for jewelry dates back to the 3rd millennium BC in the Middle East in the cradle of civilization. The oldest peices of gold jewelry were located in the tombs of Queen Zer and Queen Pu-abi of Ur in the area of Sumaria.
The first use of gold as money occurred around 700 B.C., when Lydian merchants produced the first coins. These were simply stamped lumps of a 63% gold and 27% silver mixture known as 'electrum.' This standardized unit of value helped Lydian traders in their wide-ranging successes. Today, we still speak of the ultra-wealthy as being 'rich as Croesus' form this period.
The use of gold was worldwide even in the earlier years of history. For example when Rome began to blossom, the city attracted Gold artisans who created a wide variety of gold jewelry. The use of gold in Rome was later found in household items and furniture. By the third century AD, the citizens of Rome wore necklaces made out of coins where the coins had the face of the emperor stamped on them. Gold was also very important metal in the Persian Empire, Iran of today. They created lots of artwork made of gold and used the metal as a part of their Zoroastrian religious practices. Persian goldwork is most famous for its animal art, which was modified after the Arabs conquered the area in the 7th century AD.
Early miners used a water powered system which propelled gold filled sand over sheep hide. The hide would then catch the tiny pieces of gold. The hide would then be dried and they would beat the fleece in order to release all the gold flakes to that they could collect them and used them for jewelry.
In the Americas, the skill in the use of gold was highly advanced well before the arrival of the Spanish. Native American goldsmiths had mastered most of the techniques known by their European contemporaries when the Spanish arrived. They were adept at filigree, granulation, pressing and hammering, inlay and lost-wax methods. The Spanish conquerors melted down most of the gold that they took from the peoples of this region and most of the remaining examples have come from modern excavations of grave sites. The greatest deposits of gold from these times were in the Andes and in Columbia.
During the frontier days in the United States news of gold discovery in a region may result in thousands of new settlers. Gold rushes occurred in many of the Western States, the most famous occurring in California at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. There were also other gold rushes in Australia in 1851, South Africa in 1884 and in Canada in 1897.
In the height of economic instability the rise of a gold standard was used to stabilize the global economy, dictating that a nation must limit its issued currency to the amount of gold it held in reserve. Great Britain was the first to adopt the gold standard in 1821, followed, in the 1870s, by the rest of Europe followed. The system remained in effect until the end of the first world war, after which the US was the only country still honoring the Gold Standard. After the war, other countries were allowed to keep reserves of major currencies instead of gold. The arrival of the great depression marked the end of the U.S. export of gold in the 1930s. By mid 20th century, the US dollar had replaced gold in international trade.
Gold mining has been vital to the fragile economies of many impoverished countries around the world, which produce roughly two-thirds of global gold. Gold has been vital to all regions of the world where it has been mined and made into valuable jewelry, art pieces and heirlooms. Gold has been the savior of these impoverished countries because has given them the ability to obtain clean water, food supplies and more. Gold is one of the worlds most precious commodities. It has created and destroyed, provided beauty and economic stability.