People most likely first discovered gold in streams and rivers all over the world with its beauty and luster catching the eye.
The known history of gold goes back a long way, so far back that, according to the National Mining Association,
it was first used by cultures in modern day Eastern Europe in 4000 BC to make decorative objects.
Gold was generally used for a couple thousand years solely to create things such as jewelry and idols for worship.
This was until around 1500 BC when the ancient empire of Egypt, which benefited greatly from its gold-bearing region,
Nubia, made gold the first official medium of exchange for international trade.
Egypt created what was called the Shekel, a coin which weighed 11.3 grams,
and became the standard unit of measure in the Middle East.
It was made from a naturally occurring alloy called electrum which was about two-thirds gold and one-third silver.
It was also around this time that the Babylonians discovered a method called the fire assay,
one of the most effective ways to test gold purity, which is still used to this day.
A few centuries later, around 1200 BC, the Egyptians discovered they could alloy gold with other metals
in order to make it stronger and give it different color pigments.
Egyptians also began experimenting at this time with a casting method called lost-wax casting
in which a duplicate gold sculpture is cast from an original wax sculpture, a process that can be
used to create wonderfully-intricate sculptures, so much so that it is also still used to this day.
Gold was among the first metals to be mined because it commonly occurs in its native form, that is,
not combined with other elements, because it is beautiful and imperishable, and because exquisite objects can be made from it.
Artisans of ancient civilizations used gold lavishly in decorating tombs and temples,
and gold objects made more than 5,000 years ago have been found in Egypt.
Particularly noteworthy are the gold items discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1922 in the tomb of Tutankhamun.