Why is Gold Valuable?
Gold has always been very important in the world. Gold mining did not have any safety regulations or workplace technologies, but it was still important before people learned how to sail or fly.
Many countries had gold before people learned how to sail or fly. Kings, pirates, and merchants were on the lookout for gold they could get through robbery, heavy taxes, or colonizing entire continents.
Some minerals are more valuable than gold. Gold is the most valuable mineral in the world. It is very rare and beautiful. There are some other minerals that are also very expensive, but they have less use than gold does.
Platinum is much rarer than gold, but it looks like silver to people who don’t know how to tell them apart. People usually prefer a gold watch over a platinum one because it doesn’t look as shiny as a platinum watch does to people who can’t tell the difference between them.
Gold has a yellow glow. It can be hard to understand. Wars have been caused because of gold, trade blocs, and some betrayals in human history. Gold is always interesting to study how humanity is drawn to its power.
You need to start at the beginning. Gold became valuable because of its special properties. This is important for you.
The Discovery of Gold
Gold is old. We can’t find out who discovered gold because it is so old. People in ancient times made stories about gold’s origins. Some people think that the story of Khrysos, a child of Zeus, is true because he was immune to rust and moths and could eat the thoughts of men.
One story of the legend of Midas is from a king who ruled over Greece in the 8th century BC. His wife invented coins so many people were curious about them. In poems, Homer saw gold as gods’ splendor and a sign of extravagance among everyday people.
Gold is a metal that people have been talking about for a long time. Most historians agree that gold was first found in shallow streams by late hominids.
Before people started to melt gold, they took it in its natural state. These were yellow pieces. People liked the color of the pieces and the shine. They could not use it as jewelry, currency, or weapons though.
Pure gold is hard to change and damage even over time. So most of the gold that people used before is still around today in some smartphones, computer chips, watches.
Gold was around in many places around the world. Different groups of people used it and traded it before there were any governments or economies.
For the Inca, gold was seen as tears from the sun. When Spanish conquistadors came to their shores in the 1500s, they started treasure hunting for gold because that is what colonizers came for.
Gold in the Age of Smithing
Since people first started making tools out of copper and iron, we have always thought of gold as an object that is valuable. Gold does not need a fire and hammer and can be shaped into anything without those things. Iron and other metals needed to be smelted in a fire so they could be shaped.
Gold has properties that make it easy to work with. People can mix gold with other metals to form tools. For example, people could mix it with copper or silver to make bronze.
Gold also became popular after ancient people learned they could combine two or three different metals together and get a new metal like bronze.
Many gods in ancient stories had items made out of gold like spears, swords, and armour. Kings did too after they found out about this technique.
Gold is a metal in the earth. It was used by people in ancient times to make idols, shrines, and other objects. Rich men and officials made vases, cups, plates, and jewellery when there was an abundance of it.
But until 700 BC they never used gold to make money. Damodice made the first gold coins but Lydian traders made it a mainstream practice to use them for money when they started trading with other countries.
As gold became more and more important, kingdoms would fight wars against each other. They would take prisoners and make them dig in the mines for gold.
These wars were not always about money, but they were often about religion or land. Gold allowed these kings to push their people harder.
Engineers learned how to make gold. When they did, people started using it in their money. They made the shekel, which was one-third silver and two-thirds gold. It became the most common kind of money in the Middle East.
The Romans had gold, which is used in chemical symbols. The word for this is Aurum, and it became the basis of pounds, shillings, and pence.
The Gold Standard
Long ago, people used gold to make their money. People made coins with different percentages of gold. Some had more, some had less.
This was bad because they were not the same shape. The coins with the most gold might be worth less than someone else’s coin because it was smaller and narrower.
The English government wanted to make sure that the British currency’s value stayed strong here and around the world. But their plan backfired. The Great Recoinage of 1696 led to arguments for paper money, which is a more organized way of trading than before.
Before the US had paper money, we only used gold coins. But this was difficult and sometimes dangerous to carry around with you. Paper money is easier and safer because you can take it anywhere and trade it for goods or services.
World War I was a bad time. After the war, the governments of Europe were in terrible shape. The international alliances began to change and caused economic problems all over the world.
Many countries had debt and gold production decreased because there were more powerful countries than before that took advantage of the war.
The U.S dollar and British pound sterling became more important than gold because people did not want to buy them anymore so they had more money instead of gold coins which were common during that time.
In 1934, the USA made gold more expensive. Other countries sold their gold to the USA and then people in other countries used dollars for money. After World War II, all the western countries used dollars for money because they lost their gold to the USA when they were rebuilding.
Gold in the 21st Century
Today, no country uses gold or silver as money. But gold is still important in many different ways. About 80% of the gold mined is shaped into decorations, watches, and jewellery. The other 20% has a lot of other uses too.
Electronics manufacturers use gold because it is a good conductor and it doesn’t corrode. Gold is used in smartphones, GPSs, calculators, and televisions. Also, doctors and dentists use gold to fill teeth with “fillings” or to treat certain cancers that are “radioactive.”
Role in Society
Gold is often found in funerary contexts. It was both something important in life and also something to take into the next life. Gold, despite its rarity, was from the beginning used as a way to display power after death and as a reminder of how powerful people were.
Kingship and the state used gold more in the past. The kings were buried with gold, which was a way of showing their power in life and the afterlife.
Gold is common among societies that have a social hierarchy. People with power and prestige use gold. This is true for both the New World and the Old World (including Egypt, Peru, and Mesopotamia). Gold is also used in Bulgaria and the southern Levant.
In the past, gold was often found as jewelry. In the ancient Near East, gold was often found with women. This suggests that women wore gold as a family’s wealth or even as a family’s wealth itself.
Gold and women’s jewelry is a way to show family wealth. This could be why we often find that women have more gold than men. In the burial of Queen Puabi from ancient Ur, this is shown.
Gold became more valuable as a trade commodity by the 3rd millennium BC. Gold began to be used in trade from distant places, such as India or Anatolia. By the 2nd millennium BC, gold became a standard for measuring the value of other commodities when trading became more active in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
People in the Late Bronze Age started to trade valuable objects with people in Central Asia. Gold was being used for currency. It was being used for metals such as tin and copper too.
However, during most Bronze Age periods, silver was more common, because it was more available.
Evolution of Gold
People started to use coins in the 1st millennium BC. They started to use them more in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean Hellenistic states around the 6th century BC. People made gold coins for high-value exchanges.
This is the story of gold. For a long time, gold was used to trade and it also showed how people were given royal authority. Gold and coinage came to be the privy of the state.
Gold coins are used. They become more and more standard over time. The idea of gold as a currency was popular in the late 1st millennium BC, across the Mediterranean world, where it is always as top-level as money can be. This idea of gold as a currency continues into the Medieval world for Europe after states reappear.
Gold was one of the reasons for conquering the New World. Once they got it, they made gold-level currency to show their power. This helped make Spain and other European countries stronger in a global race, but it also let them get more gold.
Gold was and is a special metal. It’s valuable and has become used in many places. For example, it can be used in coinage or to show someone has a lot of money because it’s valuable. Gold is still expensive and people care about it even today.