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Gold is one of the most precious metals in the world, having been considered valuable since the ancient times, to this day.
Etymologically, the world ‘gold’ is said to have originated from the Proto-Indo-European base ghel or ghol, which meant either ‘yellow’, ‘green’, or more plausibly ‘bright’. The gold of ancient times were often alloyed with other metals, creating varying hues aside from the standard golden one.
The color of gold can be changed depending on the type of metals that are alloyed with it. Aside from yellow gold, there is also rose gold, green gold, white gold, black gold, and purple gold.
Gold was chiefly valued as an item that possesses ‘sacred’ properties due to the fact that it possessed great luster, was highly malleable and workable, and because it resisted tarnishing. Gold is also a great conductor of electricity, so much so in fact that electrical wire is often made from an alloy of several conductive metals, among them gold!
Many ancient religions have used gold chiefly as a material for religious or ritual purposes, either by incorporating tools and items made of gold into their ritual practices, by donning jewelry made of gold, or by imbibing or consuming gold itself.
Gold is actually edible! Several cultures have imbibed or consumed gold for its reputed therapeutic and magical properties. Ancient Asiatic cultures used to incorporate gold into snack foods. Chinese cooks would garnish imperial dishes with gold dust or coat meals with gold leaf. In Europe, gold was often added into liquors and drunk as medicine, a very common practice during the Renaissance. Today, gold is still incorporated (albeit very rarely) into food.
The consumption of gold as a form of medicine was once thought to cure bubonic plague during the Middle Ages. A typical recipe included molten gold mixed with crushed emeralds drunk from a golden goblet.
Drinking or eating gold isn’t purely superstitious, however. A French study conducted during the latter part of the 20th century suggested that gold could be used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Today, liquefied gold is said to be used for just such treatment by being injected into the veins.
Gold is very malleable, capable of being hammered into sheets so thin that sunlight can pass through them. A single ounce of gold can also be extended into wire as thin as sewing thread. This malleability has made it possible for gold to be hammered into thin leafs, powdered into dust, made into thread, and incorporated into bolts of cloth.
The chemical symbol for gold is AU, which is the Latin word for aurum, originating from the Roman goddess Aurora, who was the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology. Much of the monetary value that we associate with gold nowadays can be attributed to the Romans who can be considered as the first civilization to fully standardize gold as a unit of currency devoid of any sacred or religious significance.
Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for coinandbullionpages.com © coinandbullionpages.com 2012
Note - this site provides general information about gold, silver, coins and bullion. None of the contents of this web site should be seen as financial or investment advice.