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Role of Gold in History

The evidence of numerous ancient cultures suggests that gold played an important role in determining the course of history. Part of the reason why gold is so influential lies in its unique nature. Because of its purity, rarity and resistance to corrosion, it was commonly thought to be the ultimate metal and as a consequence became associated with eternity, divinity, royalty and wealth. Different civilizations used gold in a variety of ways to enhance their own existence. With gold, they adorned temples, built idols of their gods and monuments to their rulers and made jewelry and other decorative pieces for themselves. Throughout antiquity, it was the metal of choice for use by the rich, the powerful and the religious.

Native gold was found in stream beds as nuggets and could be obtained very easily. Its yellow gleam was enough to attract someone to gather it, pierce it and wear it as beads. Even a person with no metalworking skills could have worn gold as jewelry. Free gold could be found in some areas, but the amount was limited so people had to pan for gold in rivers when there was no more free gold. Some authorities believe that the legend of the golden fleece originated from the way people obtained placer gold by washing sand over an animal's pelt with water. Later, placer gold became scarce, too, and people had to mine the gold, which was even more difficult to do. It soon became apparent that only the rich would be able to afford gold. To ancient metalworkers, gold was the most intriguing metal because of its amazing ability to pass through fire unconsumed, even purified while other metals would lose some parts in the fire. Gold always looked new, whereas silver and copper tarnished after a period of exposure. This led them to associate gold with a sense of permanence. They also found that gold was so ductile that it could be hammered into very thin sheets or gold leaves, rendering it possible for them to put g...

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Role of Gold in History. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:39, March 18, 2019, from