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Experts Discover Ancient Gold Trade Route Between UK And Ireland: Here Are Some Amazing Facts About Gold

8 June 2015, 9:29 am EDT By Dianne Depra Tech Times
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Gold nuggets like these have been passing between the U.K. and Ireland since the early Bronze age. Gold is primarily a symbol of riches today but it was used for so many other things in the past.  ( James St. John | Flickr )

Researchers have discovered a gold route between the U.K. and Ireland, suggesting that trading between the two countries has been in existence since as early as 2500 B.C. or the early Bronze Age.

Measuring the chemical composition of gold found in Ireland, the researchers showed that artifacts were actually made with gold imported from Cornwall, not locally mined. Gold deposits were abundant in Ireland and workers had more than enough knowledge of working with the metal so it was believed that, at the time, a preference for more "exotic" gold was in place so the metal was imported from southern Britain and Cornwall.

The researchers also highlighted in their study that value for gold was not universal at the time, with belief systems playing a bigger role in determining value than economics. No real uniform value for gold was set until at least the first gold coins were used almost 2,000 years later.

Golden beginnings

All the gold in the world was deposited when meteorites bombarded the Earth for more than 200 million years more than 4 billion years ago. All the gold on the planet is equivalent in volume to snow dumped by a blizzard up to 12 feet in height across the Earth's entire land surface. A lot of the gold has been extracted but, given the projected volume of deposited gold on the planet, scientists estimate that just 20 percent has been dug up. That means 80 percent of gold in the planet has yet to be discovered.

Gold as a cure

In medieval Europe, it was reported that gold was believed to be a cure for the bubonic plague. Well, a part of the cure. Apparently the whole cure involved consuming molten gold with crushed emeralds. In early 20th century France, a medical study suggested that the ionic chemical compounds within gold called "gold salts" can be injected and used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It's unclear how injecting gold remedied the condition but doing so today is expensive and entails long-term side effects that will require constant monitoring.

Gold and death

In 1599, a Spanish governor in Ecuador levied a tax so big on the Jivaro tribe that they decided to get him back by pouring molten gold down his throat. Spanish Inquisition enforcers and the Romans also took a liking to killing with gold, as well Khal Drogo, in season one of the Game of Thrones, when he gave Viserys a golden crown.

Photo: James St. John | Flickr

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