Did you know that people began refining gold about 8,000 years ago? Or that ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were all creating gold alloys well before the birth of Christ? So there’s no doubt about it. Here at Specialty Metals, we’re still practicing one of the oldest arts in the world.
You’ll discover many fascinating facts about gold in Short History of Metals, a great article that metallurgist Dr. Alan W. Cramb has posted online. Here are some of the surprising facts he reports about the history of gold . . .
- Gold and copper were the first metals used by ancient people because they can be found in their native states in nature. A metal like cadmium, in contrast, wasn’t discovered until 1817 because its extraction required a process called fractional distillation.
- Gold is widely dispersed through the Earth’s crust, but also found in “placer deposits” of gravel that have broken away from the Earth’s crust by erosion or other forces. For that reason, ancient people were able to not only mine for gold, but also to find it in stream beds and gravel deposits.
- Gold doesn’t combine with other metals in nature, so it is easy to identify visually, even though it is scarce. Remember the Gold Rush of 1849? Although some miners staked claims and built elaborate sluices to extract larger amounts of gold from sediments and rocks, the most memorable image is of a forty-niner panning for gold. (They’re still doing it today.)
- Gold’s malleability (softness) was one reason for its early success. As soon as a quantity of gold nuggets was secured, ancient people could hammer them into blocks without heating them. That softness also allowed gold to be beaten into thin sheets of gold leaf, which could be applied to wood and other surfaces. (Remember the artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb?) And the fact that gold was both scarce and soft kept it from being used in tools.
- Gold is not only beautiful, it’s noncorrosive and tarnish-free too. That’s another reason for its wide use in jewelry and decorative applications, even in ancient times. (Gold's noncorrosive nature, combined with its electrical conductivity, also explains why it's so commonly used in electronics like circuit boards.)
Do You Have Some of this Remarkable Ancient Metal on Hand?
Here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we don’t use stone hammers to beat small pieces of gold into bigger pieces. We don’t wade into streams to pan for gold. Instead we use only the most advanced technology to extract, refine and recycle the gold from a variety of components and materials that you have on hand.
But make no mistake about it. We’re still practicing an ancient art. We just do it in a very modern way. To find out how we can work together to refine and recycle gold-bearing scrap profitably, call us at 800-426-2344.