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Fascinating Reminders About Gold and Its Glorious History

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ancient Aztec gold artifact

Fascinating Reminders About Gold and Its Glorious History

June 21, 2024 banker101 Comments Off

Some reminders about gold and its history

Gold is a yellow metal characterized by its high density and its unalterability in air and in water. It is the most malleable and ductile of all metals. It has an excellent electrical conductivity as well. Gold is the 79th element in Mendeleev’s table with an atomic number of 79.

History of gold

Gold has been coveted by man since ancient times. It is one of the first metals to have been exploited, because it is often found in its native state, that is to say in its metallic, not combined with other elements. It was used for its beauty and durability to create objects and decorate temples, palaces and tombs. Gold objects were found. dating back more than from 3000 BC, some found in Egypt and Iraq (Mesopotamia, Sumerian civilization), including the sarcophagus and treasure from the tomb of Tutankhamun, a young pharaoh who died in 1352 BC.

Fine gold objects are known from Greece as early as 1500 BC, and gold mining was widespread in Nubia and Arabia by 950 BC. The gold of Gaul was actively exploited in the 1st century BC and first centuries AD (Gallo-Roman auriers of Limousin, etc.). In pre-Columbian America, goldsmithing was known as early as 1200 BC. JC, and was particularly developed among the Aztecs and the Incas upon the arrival of the conquistadors.

In West Africa, gold mining is likely from 3 century AD and is attested since the Middle Ages. It was gold that then gave rise to the greatness, power and prosperity of the great West African empires, in particular the Empire of Mali (Mandingo) between the 12th and the 14th century, during which West Africa was the main supplier of gold to the Mediterranean world. Nowadays there is a lot of gold investing, where the gold is usually kept at a custodian bank.

Read this to learn more about gold investing!

The evolution of gold production

According to GoldSupply, it is estimated that humanity has produced a total of around 190,000 tons of gold since its beginnings, distributed as follows:

  • from antiquity until 1,492 (discovery of America): 11,700 tons
  • from 1493 to 1850: 5,240 tons
  • from 1851 to 1900: 9,870 tons
  • from 1901 to 1950: 37,590 tons
  • from 1951 to 2000: 77,680 tons
  • from 2001 to 2017: 46,540 tons
  • total, from antiquity to 2017: 188,650 tons

Note that 188,650 tons, the quantity of gold produced in the world for more than 5000 years, corresponds to the amount of aluminum currently produced in the world every 1.1 days. We can also note that half of the gold extracted from the ground has been since 1972, that is to say that humanity will have extracted as much gold between 1972 and 2017 (in 46 years) as from Antiquity to 1971.

Even from 1851 where there are records of annual mining production, we know that the evaluations quantities produced may differ by a few % from one source to another. These numbers are therefore to be taken as orders of magnitude, not as exact figures.

What happened to the gold of the world

Given its price, gold is rarely thrown away and is widely recycled at the end of its use, in electronics for example. However, its uses can last a very long time. Ingots and bars stored in central banks coffers like the Federal Reserve of New York may have been there for many, many years.

Some gold jewelry is passed down in the family from generation to generation without being counted in a recycling circuit. Certain batches of coins are hoarded by individuals, to the point
to be sometimes forgotten over the generations and found much later as valuable treasures. Without counting the gold from Tutankhamun’s mask, immobilized for more than 3000 years, or the leaves of gold deposited on Buddha statues in Southeast Asia, that it would be unwise to go scratch.

The United Nations Development Program, which commissioned a study on gold recycling rate published in 2011, estimated that gold from jewelry and coins, if however it reaches the end of its use, is recycled at 90 to 100%. Dental gold would be recycled at 15 at 20%. Gold used in electronics at 10 to 15%, and gold for other industrial applications at 70 to 90%.