Gold pp 23-28 | Cite as

Gold During the Pre-Classical (Primitive) Period (5000 B.C.–600 B.C.)

  • Robert W. Boyle


Gold was probably the first metal known to the early hominids who, on finding it as nuggets and spangles in the soils and stream sands, were undoubtedly attracted by its intrinsic beauty, great maleability, and virtual indestructibility. As tribal development progressed through the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic ages, and as people congregated into civilized centers, the metal appears to have taken on a sacred quality because of its enduring character (immortality), being worn initially probably as amulets and later fashioned into religious objects (idols). By the time of the early Indus (Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, etc.), Sumerian, and Egyptian civilizations (3000–2000 B.C.) gold had not only retained its sacred quality but had become the symbol of wealth and social rank (the royal metal). Homer (c. 1000 B.C.), in the Iliad and Odyssey, the epic poems of ancient Greece, mentions gold repeatedly both as a sign of wealth among mortals and as a symbol of splendor among the immortals.


Gold Deposit Gold Mining Precious Metal Early Hominid Altai Mountain 
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Copyright information

© Van Nostrand Reinhold 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Boyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of CanadaOttawaCanada

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