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Last updated: 02/09/2015 15:43:39

Common gold questions

Who discovered gold?

Gold has been in use by humans as far back as the Chalcolithic or Bronze Age.

While there is no clear cut answer to this question, gold has been in use by humans as far back as the Chalcolithic or Bronze Age. Early artisans of the time period used gold to fashion jewelry and other adornments. Golden artifacts have been found in the Balkans that predate the Christian Era by four millennia.

Throughout history, gold has had a rich history that has taken it through ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Africa. It has long been a part of the symbolism of these cultures and is used dominantly in their artifacts and adornments. In 2600 BC, the ancient king Tushratta of Mitanni claimed that gold in Egypt was more plentiful than dirt, perhaps the first reference to the modern phrase "streets paved with gold".

While we have no scientific proof of the claimed abundance of Egyptian gold during that time, there have been archaeological finds that seem to add some credibility to the claim, including the earliest known map, the Turin Papyrus Map. This map outlined the structure of an early gold mining facility and the local geography of a region in Nubia.

The Greek geographer, Strabo, shared the ancient methods of refining and extracting the gold from ore, including a smelting process called "Fire-Sitting". It is also believed that the Greek legend of the Golden Fleece that was pursued by Jason and the Argonauts may have referred to a practice of using fleece to trap gold dust in placer deposits, an early form of screening for gold.

The Romans were the first to develop wide spread gold mining methods, including hydraulic mining. Their quest for gold led the ancient Roman empire to expand throughout most of the known world.

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