The first known use of gold as money dates back to 700 B.C. At that time, in Lydia, an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor, merchants used coins that were made by stamping lumps of a mixture of 63% gold and 27% silver. This mixture was called “electrum.”
The gold to silver value ratio is estimated to have origins as far back as 3100 BC. Evidence is recorded in the code of Menes, founder of the first Egyptian dynasty. It states that “One part of gold is equal to two and one half parts of silver in value.”
The first known gold treasure map was found in Egypt and was created around 1320 BC. The papyrus document is known as the “Carte des mines d’or” – Map of gold mines – It is on display at the Turin Museum. In addition to depicting gold mines, it shows what would have been miners’ quarters and roads leading to mountainous terrain believed to be the location of significant gold mines. It is not clear, however, where these are actually located.
Up until the California Gold Rush (1848 – 1855), and beginning thousands of years prior to this event, miners used a form of hydraulic process that involved propelling gold-bearing water over the hide of a sheep. This would trap the very small, yet heavy gold flakes. Once the fleece had absorbed all the water and flakes it could hold, it was hung to dry. Beating it gently once dry would release the flakes of gold, which could then be recovered with ease.
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