The history of gold is quite intriguing. Embedded in the history of gold is the very story of mankind’s evolution. Gold was discovered before iron, copper, lead and any other metal which became more widely found and used over time. Gold, during the time when it was first found, was available in abundance. It is said that people would find gold pieces in rivers, down the streams of waterfalls and everywhere where you wouldn’t find gold today.
There is no single place or time where gold was found because numerous civilizations across the world found gold and started admiring it even before any form of documentation was known to mankind. In its first few centuries, gold was neither considered to be money nor to be a rare precious metal. It was widely admired due to its shine, texture and the fact that it would remain spotlessly clean and beautiful even after use. Gold could be easily found, easily melted and easily made into anything that one dreamt of.
Gold isn’t found in ores, it is heavy and highly malleable. For many centuries, gold became the symbol of god, the sun, the wealthy and royalty.
The earliest documentation of the history of gold dates back about three thousand years. There are well substantiated records from circa 700 BC and 500 BC. Plato and Aristotle had also written about gold, exploration of mines, using slaves at the mines and the various adventures that people would embark upon to find gold. By that time, it was fairly understood that gold is not as widely available as it was earlier thought to be.
Gold had been used as ornaments, for experimentations, to build idols and on properties long before it became money. It was not until the time when gold replaced the barter system and was widely available as coins that gold became a facilitator of trade. Three thousand years back, gold would be used to make almost anything, from a vase to a chair. Once it became money, wild experimentations took a backseat.
The history of gold also tracks the history of various civilizations, wars over wealth and treasure hunts. Many foreign policies, relationships between provinces or kingdoms were decided based on how much gold one had and the history of gold has witnessed many bright and many dark moments in the evolution of humanity.
The modern way of dealing in gold was shaped up much later. It wasn’t until the modern era or post industrialization that states and nations got into regulatory mode and started using gold methodically as a precious metal. Gold investment as a strategy did not become as widespread as today until the late 19th century and early 20th century.