Gold has been used in many cultures for centuries. It has been used as more than currency but in religion, medicine and many other things. The main reason that gold was such an important metal was because it was unlike any other metal found in antiquity. Its beauty made it one of the most coveted precious metals in the world.
Because of its property of being noncorrosive, it was a symbol of immortality in many cultures. Its brilliance made it a symbol of power for many people.
The Egyptians started mining for gold as far back began as 2000 BCE. The Romans went on to mine gold in Africa Spain and Portugal.
A lot of cultures have used gold in their artwork and it is also part of religious events. There has always been one reason or other to use gold. This precious metal spurred many voyages which led to the discovery of new worlds and continents as we have come to know.
Gold might not be currency but it has remained a sound investment especially in times of political and economic uncertainty. People can sell gold in times of financial crisis especially when fiat currencies lose their value.
Gold spawned an industry of gold buyers, goldsmiths, jewellers and gold traders across the globe who all play a significant role in its value chain. Let’s look at the various culture that revered gold and still hold it in high regard.
For Egyptians, gold symbolised the very flesh of the deities they worshipped. This is the main reason, gold was used in funeral rituals, why sarcophagi were covered in gold and why gold people were buried with symbolic gold ornaments. The Egyptians were the first to develop goldsmithing techniques that are still used today.
Greeks used gold as currency. They made coins that were somewhat irregular in shape but stamped on one side. The coin making technique was refined by the Romans later on. Gold became so important in trade and commerce that little of it was left over for use in other forms. As scarce as it was, people who were more affluent still buried their dead with gold jewellery and ornaments.
The Romans valued gold. It was a status symbol and highly coveted by many. The use of gold in Roman culture was prolific amongst the Romans who used it to make all kinds of products from jewellery to pots and other ornaments. The Romans went as far as constructing aqueducts in regions that they had conquered like Spain. When Julius Caesar became emperor, gold became the center of the monetary system. They began minting coins with the image of emperors. As gold became the centre of the monetary system, its use in other areas became less popular.
In Asia gold was revered and had spiritual significance for many cultures. It was used to decorate temples and to make statues of deities like the golden Buddha. The forbidden city in Beijing China was fitted with all kinds of gold ornaments and accessories including gold furniture as well as golden draperies. The most famous golden statue in Asia is the Golden Buddha created sometime in the 1600s to 1750.
In Pre-columbian America, gold had a huge spiritual significance. It was associated with the sun god by the Aztecs and the Incas. They built elaborate temples decorated with gold ornaments and statues. Some civilisations like the Mayans used gold as currency. The Incas built temples and filled them with gold and also made objects like golden masks that were used during sacred rituals. Legends of “Cities of Gold” spurred voyages by other nations like the Spanish, who plundered the temples and ended up willing entire civilisations of the Aztecs and the Incas.
Today gold is still as revered as it was those thousand yeas ago. It is still a symbol of wealth and power, and plays an important role in the global economy. In Chinese and Indian cultures for example, gold is considered auspicious and is used in cultural ceremonies. Gold endures. In some cultures like the Indians gold is preferred over paper currency because currency loses its value whereas people can sell gold jewellery to gold buyers in times of financial crisis.