From the Desk's Mystery Series.
©12 The Media Desk
- The Epic Of Gilgamesh, 700 BC
(Translated by R. Campbell Thompson, 1928)
See link below
[NOTE: As with other articles in this series, various other authors have told this story in years past, and some have done so far better than this old ex-sportswriter ever could. However, that has never stopped us before, and it shan't stop us now. The below is presented as the Desk presents things, in the Desk's style (whatever that is) and for reasons of its own. All conclusions and remarks are those of the author.
ALSO: For This Article We Are Ignoring The Alchemists. Period. That's another article which we may tackle at some point.
- thank you]
This is simply a given: Every human culture this side of anything that could be called a 'civilization', and a few that weren't, has held gold as precious.
For evidence we have to point no further than the various temples, palaces, royal burials, and religious tokens of every ancient people you can name ranging from the Inca to the Celts to Mycenae and on into Asia with the Persians and the Mongols where even the feared Genghis Kahn had a love of fine ornament, and on to Japan where gold leaf can be found on Samurai helmets.
Let's go ahead and look at Egypt. They worked lots of metals, they had a good command of making alloys such as bronze and pewter and did so routinely for thousands of years. Even going to the point of burying weapons and eating utensils of those metal compounds with their dead. But those were utilitarian and even pedestrian compared to the way they handled gold. The laborers had eating bowls made of pewter. The pharaoh's were gold! Not, usually, Electrum, the naturally occurring alloy of gold with silver and what not that was made into coins and buttons, Gold.
There is no "First" where some sort of ancient artifact from an burial mound in China or someplace that can be held up and declared that it was the initial such item produced from the yellow metal. Because as soon as somebody dates something found in, say, the Mohenjo-daro ruins in India at 1000 BC, somebody else opens an Egyptian tomb from about 3000 BC and says the Menes Dynasty was the first. And don't look now, somebody just turned over a rock in Serbia's Eneolithic Necropolis, or the one near Varna in Bulgaria that may push that back a few thousand years more.
If the recovered relics themselves are not pure gold, they are embellished with it. Which means that besides digging and working with copper to make bronze (it was the Bronze Age after all), they had discovered this other metal in with it and found out that it didn't turn your skin green when you made something fancy for the king to wear. But does the fact that it does not react with sweat to change color or rust answer for the inordinate value placed on the metal.
Now think about it. Personal items of the individual are found with or near the body in many of these ancient tombs, and in the oldest, such as those in Serbia, the tools and other useful items are made of stone or copper while the ornaments and jewelry are gold. In seven thousands years our workday items have changed a great deal, but our jewelry has not!
So we'll say right here and now, ever since man began doing anything that had value beyond the next meal or safe place to sleep out the interminable night, gold seems to have been part of the picture. Or very nearly so.
Pardon our chemistry tangent:"Two hundred and fifty mummies covered in gold. Something like this cannot be explained - mummy after mummy covered in shining gold."Symbol Au, for Aurum, Latin for "fish tacos" (sorry, small joke, the word means- Gold).It is stable and is even considered 'noble' in that it is not chemically active to biological processes. Therefore elemental, or pure, Gold has no smell or taste, so when you see a movie where a prospector can 'smell a strike', they're lying. It is also not affected by normal weathering and will not rust or corrode making something that is gold plated or gilded virtually impervious to the weather.
Atomic number 79, weight 196
The specific gravity of pure gold is 19.3 (lead comes in at 11.3 and iron at 7.8!)
Melting point is 1947 degrees F (1064 C)
Contrary to two popular myths that gold is indestructible and the best electrical conductor, it is Neither! Gold, and its neighbor on the periodic table- Platinum, will dissolve in Aqua Regia, which is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid (but then again, so with damned near everything else!). It can also be dissolved in various cyanide compounds, which is also not a good idea to try at home for obvious reasons. As for conductivity, pure Silver and Copper are both better, and by some measures Gold is only marginally better as a conductor of electricity than Aluminum.
One of its unusual properties is that it can be beaten incredibly thin, almost to the level of being just a couple of atoms thick. Think about it, one ounce of nearly pure Gold can be beaten into foil to nearly one hundred square meters (three hundred square feet) in area at only 0.03 um (micrometers) thick, and still be handled, for instance, used for gilding as with gold leaf. How unusual is this property? As far as could be easily verified, only Platinum shares this feature.
For comparison, a sheet of your average garden variety typing paper is 70 um thick, whereas the aluminum foil used for cooking is 13 micrometers thick, remember the gold was .03 um!
Well, Dr. Hawass is known for being a bit of a showman, because it can easily be explained. Even though the 'golden mummies' discovered by the scores in 1996 (when a donkey tripped over part of a tomb. Yes, that 'little known' email fact is true!), only date from a century or two before the time of Christ, the Egyptian book of the Dead mentions gold in several contexts, including saying that the power of the gods transforms the dead Pharaoh into the substance...
"I am a column of gold, eternal, at peace, in harmony."
And if that isn't an old enough source for you, the glyphs on the inside of the partially destroyed Pyramid of Unas which became a large part of the Pyramid Texts that were put together around 3000 BC and carved as found a century or two later, and still later became the Book of the Dead. In the older work gold is mentioned as an object worthy of the gods. [NOTE: some translations differ.]
To say the words:
"O this country (at the) Mouth-of-the-River,
this is the place of my overthrow.
This country, Mouth-of-the-River belongs to me, the Gold of the Praise,
It is (-x-) of the praise, this your ox,
the renowned one, against whom this has been done."
- translation of hieroglyph from Pyramid of Unas, 2350 BC (see link below)
In the New World, the Mayan were finding gold in what is now Guatemala, as well as in the mountains of Old Mexico, and perhaps even as far afield as the southern Appalachian Mountains in today's USA, if some newer and decidedly unorthodox research is to be believed. And we'll come back to that later.
But, again, "why gold?"
Some cultures were essentially obsessed with the metal.....
..... Let's pause and explain what we're talking about here.....
No, the average peasant farmer plowing his field with an ox was not obsessed with gold. For one, he may have been prohibited by law from owning any (such as the US did in 1933 through Executive Order 6102 by FDR which forbade the "hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States.") Neither was the carpenter, the fisherman, or perhaps even the actual goldsmith who was making the objects for the temple and the palace.
The ones obsessed with it were the ruling classes, the priests, and those who could spend time thusly:
"There once many a man
Mood-glad, gold bright, of gleams garnished,
Flushed with wine-pride, flashing war-gear,
Gazed on wrought gemstones, on gold, on silver,
On wealth held and hoarded, on light-filled amber."
Ruin - Anglo-Saxon poem, approximately 1000 AD - author unknown
For the others of their clan or tribe or even city, the daily chore of survival was more important than sitting around looking at gold and gems.
Even Biblical Kings could be said to have gone mad over their own hoards of gold. For example we have to go no further than a King usually regarded as 'good', Hezekiah, and his foolishness with the emissaries from Babylon which the Prophet Isaiah disapproved of in Second Kings Twenty. [See full quote below.] But it is safe to say that the shepherds outside the city, the ones that were later carried off as slaves, weren't as impressed with the treasure trove as either the king or the ambassador. But the gathered wealth was probably more of a motivation for the later invasion and sacking of the city than a few herds of sheep.
Much of what Hezekiah had, and what the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar ended up carrying away, probably came from the ancient mines of Mahd adh Dhahab ("Cradle of Gold") in what is now west central Saudi Arabia. These mines are known to have been worked since about 1000 BC (two thousand years before the Saxon poem above!), so they would have been in use from about the time of Solomon through the Roman occupation.
Were they the King Solomon's Mine of song and story, and even movie? Well. The best answer is, "maybe'. And another equally valid answer is that the king may have had more than one mine. Ancient copper mines have been found in the Jordanian Desert with inscriptions in the neighborhood that are from the time period of the kings. There is evidence that when the mines were in use they produced upwards of five thousand tons of copper.
Not everybody everywhere was out digging up the mountains and deserts around the world in search of the yellow metal.
"For a short time we lived quietly. But this could not last. White men had found gold in the mountains around the land of winding water."
- Chief Joseph (the Younger) (1840 - 1904)
Native Americans, before the Europeans came, did use gold and silver in their ornaments and jewelry, which was one of the reasons Christopher Columbus got so excited about his discovery. But they also used polished stones and shells, and other metals like copper which did not require a lot of processing. The gold they used was found and worked, not mined, they didn't go to that level of effort to obtain it. And there is some evidence to support the idea that except in the southwest and possibly even the southern Appalachians, where there may have been influence from even further South, active mining for these materials was simply something that they did not do. Gold was not seen as of any more value than anything else they used for decoration as it was essentially useless for tools or weapons, and its low melting point made it impractical for cooking utensils when you are cooking on a wood fire. And yet, the Mayan ruler in Calakmul was far more interested in the rumors of gold found to the north than he was the shells and feathers he knew was there.
Anything, no matter what it is, has no value unless we assign it a worth beyond its intrinsic, real world, worth. A ham sandwich has innate, the true, value of 'lunch'. That's about it. An automobile has the value of 'transportation', if you add air conditioning 'comfortable transportation'. And so on. You could say that a lump of iron has the potential value of becoming a horseshoe or the hammer to put it on the horse. But as a 'lump' of iron it has the actual value here and now of being a doorstop.
A lot of the value we assign to things is in their potential. We see the lump of iron as part of the engine of that air conditioned car we mentioned, but it is a long way from a block of pig iron to a four door sedan. But most of us can look at a pile of iron ore, or even the raw iron out of the furnace as exactly what it is. There have been those in history who if they saw gold in that state would lose control of their bodily functions.
Gold itself has little practical, here and now, real world, true, value. Somebody just said that a modest sized lump of gold could buy a lot of ham sandwiches, and maybe the car to bring them home in. That is the cash value of the gold, a worth assigned by the market. By itself, as a golden nugget, you're talking about a paperweight. If you did some hammering and polishing, the gold can go from a nugget to a set of earrings and a necklace, but still, it has no value other than looking nice hanging from a pretty woman's ear. As far as practicality, the hammer has more inborn value than the earrings. But most people who claim to be civilized would say that the gold is worth a lot more than the hammer that made them.
As we have now mentioned a couple of times, there were those digging for gold in the New World, and they were those that could be listed under the general heading of "civilized", namely the Olmec, and then later the Maya in the North and the Chavin followed by the Inca in the South. They built cities, in some cases, great metropolises, with dedicated priests and kings who seemed to like everything they used to be gold inlaid with fine stones and polished until the sun glinting off it hurt your eyes. As testified to by some of the goldwork by the Chavin of Peru whose ruler wore engraved golden crowns around 1200 BC.
And here too you have to say that it was only the king and his court who held a special place in their hearts for gold. Those scraping the rocky soil of the coast along the Andes hardly had time to work out the intricate details worked into the pieces found depicting the Jaguar god.
But once the Spaniards showed up, a lot of that "oro" (Spanish for 'gold'), and quite a bit of everything else as well, was carried off because even though many Inca warriors had gold plated armor that was spectacular looking, against musket balls and steel swords, it was found to be spectacularly inadequate.
"Get gold, humanely if possible, but at all hazards - get gold."
- order from King Ferdinand of Spain in 1511
It was as if the 'divine right of kings' included all the gold. No, not that he could eat, or hoard, or anything else, ... ALL the gold.
Fortunately the conquerors didn't find some of what was in places like Chavin de Huantar and we can now marvel at the art these almost forgotten people produced.
And we thereby come back to our central point. The answer to that question... why gold?
The Chavin may have been a touch late getting around to it when compared to the people in the Varna valley, well, four or five thousand years late, but they still did it. Just as they answered the riddle of how to make monumental structures with post and beam construction. As did the Ancients of the Old World, even though they were separated by trackless miles of ocean and, at least in these two cases, thousands of years.
We might as well point out now that the temple of Hagar Qim on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean bears an uncanny resemblance to Chavin de Huantar in the mountains of Peru, even though, as we said, they are separated by thousands of miles and at least three thousand years. But that is NOT what we are talking about here... or is it? Hang onto that thought as we may get back to it.
And now we have to ask "Why Gold?" one or two more times, and eventually, try to answer it.
Some will answer that Gold is 'pretty', or 'shiny', or that it can be polished to a high luster. They point to the fact that it does not rust, tarnish, or corrode. Others remark on its scarcity, and the fact that in most cases it can only be gotten with a great deal of effort. Unless that is that you have Rumplestiltskin on staff who can spin straw into it. But failing that, start building a smelter.
Well, yes, that is all true, except the bit about the spinning, but still. Some of those very facts are also reasons not to value the metal. It is basically useless for weapons or tools. In fact, until the advent of the computer age, there was no practical reason to use gold in large industrial applications. For instance, gold shrugs off most liquid acids and alkalis, but nobody made gallon jugs of pure gold to put hydrochloric acid in, instead, high grade glass, with almost no impurities in it, was used until low organic component plastic was developed, or even Teflon.
Even now where a highly conductive solder is needed that will not corrode in an application where it could not be hermetically sealed, its low melting point might be a disadvantage. In short, there is probably a better option given the innate cost in using gold in large quantity unless you're building a spacecraft where your plastic coating might peel off the circuit board during launch. In that case it is worth using gold.
Yes, gold can be finely worked and hold its shape after casting, just like bronze, brass, pewter, and so on. But gold's softness means that it has to be alloyed with another metal to make it hard enough to withstand the sometimes even casual contact that will bend or dent pure gold. As with another metal found in the ancient sites, bronze, the resulting compound, or alloy, is harder than the two base metals, in the case of bronze, copper and tin are combined, to make something that is up to three times harder than either on its own. So gold that wasn't purely ornamental was alloyed with, say copper, to make it stand up to use. Which also increased how many items could be made from a given amount of gold.
Now consider this, for the time and effort and expense it takes to make a single place setting for the palace of gold, you can make several of something like bronze or pewter, but either way the steak knife that goes with them will not hold an edge! Even well alloyed gold is still too soft to use for cutting. Remember when we mentioned 'Electrum', the natural alloy? The metal as you find it in the riverbanks is a good conductor of electricity, it is shiny, even being mentioned in the Bible as such, it is durable, but can still be worked. So why bother smelting it down into silver and copper and plantium and whatever else shows up in it, to get the gold out? Ahhh, we'll come back to that.
Something else of a disadvantage for items made of gold is weight. Gold is heavy. Remember that line in the chemistry bit before about 'specific gravity', yeah, this is where that comes into play.
Take a cubic foot of, whatever, and weigh it. A block of cast iron will weigh about four hundred fifty pounds. Brass and bronze come in just over five hundred. Pure copper will tip the scales at five hundred forty two pounds. Silver will go just over six hundred fifty pounds. Even a solid brick, twelve inches on each side of lead will go a svelte seven hundred pounds when compared to the twelve hundred pounds for a cubic foot of gold! Even Uranium is slightly lighter than gold with a specific gravity of 19.1 compared to gold's 19.29!
Which is one reason when somebody says they want a broadsword or shield of 'solid gold', give it to them. Besides being too soft to be effective (remember the Inca?), weapons or armor of pure gold would be too heavy to use. At least in real life they are. In role playing games such items are often imbued with special powers. But we'll come back to that.
To get something heavier than gold of the naturally occurring elements you have to get into things like Tungsten, Platinum, and Iridium. The latter being the heaviest as it will fetch one thousand three hundred eighty three pounds for our one foot block with its SG of 19.62. Of those, only Platinum was known to the ancients. But for some reason, they didn't develop the same affinity for it, even though it has most of the same properties, non-corroding etc, and is just as, if not more rare than gold. And yet, nobody made a Platinum statue of a pharaoh to seal inside a tomb. To be fair, some were other metals, but the standard was gold.
Again- "Why Gold?"
Throughout history the metal has often, not always, but very often been associated with various deities. In some cases, the various gods held other metals as special, such as the Egyptian goddess Hathor was thought to be fond of copper, and gold too, but copper was on the list. And the Greek Olympian god Hephaistos (later known to the Romans as Vulcan) was the patron of ironwork and was said to be the blacksmith of the gods, and yes, he worked gold too, at one point building a golden throne, but still. And his relative (half-sister maybe?) Artemis was said to use a bow of silver with her arrows in a silver quiver, from her chariot pulled by silver stags. And, oh yeah, Artemis liked gold too.
Anyway, the point is that while other metals were given various attributes, it was gold that was special. In most ancient mythical stories, a magic ring, or harp, helmet, or box was probably made of gold.
Even in today's world the power of the image of gold is still in use. Such as China's use of the symbolism of gold in its "Golden Shield" firewall on the Internet to prevent outside forces from corrupting the innocent people of the People's Republic. To call it, say, the new 'Great Wall', or perhaps, 'silk curtain' just doesn't have the same power of allusion as the other.
Remember the chariot Ishtar wanted to give to Gilgamesh? Gold was something the gods only bestowed on worthy people, or the king, because the gods held it as precious. The thought that the gods would give it to men because it was next to worthless to them and they had nothing better to do with it, never occurred to the composers of the ancient legends.
No, gold was of special note to the gods. It was the color of the Sun, which meant it was the color of the most (usually) powerful god, and in the case of the sun god, be that the Hindu god Surya, or the Egyptian's Amun, Helios of the Greeks, or even Sunna from the Norse world, their chariot was made from it (or in some cases the wheels were, or whatever). Gold was precious to the gods. And therefore, to the people of the time.
And so, it seems, it still is.
Even today, winners get a 'gold medal', something which has reached its zenith of development or quality is said to have entered its 'golden age', if something is considered extremely well done or is of exceptionally high quality, it is said to be 'golden', and so on. The halos of the Holy Family in Catholic art are golden in color whereas those of lower ranking saints are traditionally seen of silver. Speaking of religion, we can begin and end with the 'golden rule'. For myths and legends, the 'golden fleece' will stand here, or rather, hang off a tree limb here, for all of those. In history, we'll skip the 'Golden Horde' of the Mongols and move on.
A 'gold edition' of something like an automobile or video set is liable to cost considerably more than an un-gilded one. When dealing with the marking of time, a significant event is referred to as the 'golden anniversary'. In mathematics you have the 'golden ratio' and the 'golden rectangle'. In marketing, a beverage isn't 'yellow, it is 'golden' in color, whether it is or not is irrelevant, the price will reflect how much gold you have to shell out to purchase the drink.
Perhaps our analogies are not worth their weight in gold, but the point has been made.
But, "why gold?"
The answer isn't simple.
Even today there exist near stone age cultures who have little if any use for gold. If they have any at all it is an even bet that it came from outside.
The San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert are perhaps one of the oldest tribes on Earth. Some of their rock art goes back hundreds of thousands of years. And today, they live essentially as they did, then. Their lives have not changed in any substantial way since they carved those figures in the cliffs near where they still hunt wild boar, however many generations later. And gold? Gold is simply not part of the picture, even the pictures on the rocks.
The Aborigines people of Australia didn't care for gold one way or the other until the gold rushes beginning in the 1850s where their participation was primarily as guides to show the prospectors where they'd been finding these shiny rocks for the last couple of thousand years.
In South America, in Africa, and elsewhere, the same holds true. Remember those American Indians we mentioned who weren't overly impressed with gold? Their neighbors to the south were all about gold. While those in North America were content with a handful of beads in and amongst their shells and stones, the Maya and others were actively tearing up the landscape looking for it. Even without the wheel, and iron tools, the Maya were able to obtain and use a remarkable amount of gold. Bringing it from Guatemala and perhaps even from as far away as America to their cities in Mexico and the Yucatan.
The same holds true for the Inca. They were able to accumulate enough gold that on short notice and in something of a hurry that the Incan people could amass enough gold to fill a sizable room to a depth of several feet and a now estimated weight of some five tons to ransom their king, The Inca, Atahualpa, from the Spanish. Of course the lust for gold, and conquest, but mostly gold, resulted in total betrayal and the murder of the king by Pizarro and the wholesale ransacking of the continent for everything that could be sent back to Europe.
Except for the eastern side of the southern continent where stone age tribes hunted capybaras with the same weapons the Cro Magnon used at the end of the last ice age. And they didn't get all breathless in the presence of the yellow metal either.
Just as the protected tribes on the islands off the east coast of India, the Shom Pen people and others, remain amazingly primitive in spite of ongoing contact with 'civilized' people. And, as such, they are far more interested in food handouts instead of cash. Or gold.
Let's look at that point.
Groups of humans who were/are not civilized by any reasonable definition of the term, had/have little, if any, interest in gazing "on wrought gemstones, on gold, on silver..." Even their chiefs, by whatever title they called themselves, seemed only to require enough of those things to make their chosen badge of rank unique from the rest of their people. In some cases, no more than a different array of feathers or face paint.
The concept of acquiring gold for its own sake seems not to be part of their makeup.
Is it that they simply are not greedy?
Not entirely. Given the chance, individuals of these groups will take more dried fish than they can eat in one day. They'll walk away with extra spears or baskets or whatever is available. That is if there is no chance of being caught and punished by the group that is. In most cases, the penalties for such actions are more severe than in 'civilized' societies.
They don't want the shiny stuff because they have no use for it. Oh yes, they'll use it for trade, such as the Aborigines did in Australia. They quickly learned which rocks the traders wanted, and how to hold out for another iron cooking pot when they had a good kangaroo skin full of them. But the gold itself had no meaning to them beyond that.
They appear to be immune to the sometime life-altering illness known as Gold Fever.
Usually thought of as a prospector's pipe dream of quick wealth and the milepost on the road to a life of leisure, there is more to it than that. We're not talking about somebody out looking for a handful of nuggets as keepsakes, or a weekend hobby, or perhaps to make their next car payment with. We're after the one that runs deeper. An obsession that is, in some cases, to die for. Or at least to kill for.
Of course it could be that those that seek gold are simply in pursuit of wealth, and thereby power and control. The metal is a means to an end. Even perhaps a means to do good for the world at large. It is unlikely, but it is possible.
However, with some it appears to be an actual addiction. A lust for the metal beyond any reasonable need for, say, to use as a non-corrosive electrical connector or to pay that aforementioned bill. The rational that if they strike it rich they can buy an NBA team and retire to their suite to watch the game in luxury falls by the wayside, sometimes it is totally forgotten. They want the gold itself, yes they'll take the wealth and all that, and maybe even become a philanthropist and feed the hungry. But first, and most importantly, they want the gold. Nevermind the rest of it, they want the gold. It has become the goal in and of itself.
It becomes a need that is almost to the level of survival itself.
"I had dreams, Average size
There were stars in the skies, Not my eyes
Then I got gold fever
"No rompin', rollin', Girl-and-fellow stuff
Can cure the gold fever
Nothin' can help you
But the yellow stuff"
- Gold Fever, from the film version of Paint Your Wagon by Lerner and Loewe, Paramount pictures, 1969
There are historical accounts of kings who allowed their countries to fall into insolvency and even revolution instead of parting with their "wealth held and hoarded". King Louis XVI of France had enough wealth on the walls of Versailles and in his other palaces to satisfy the needs of the national treasury for some time. Instead of having a yard sale, he raised taxes on the common people (the nobility and clergy were exempt from most taxes "sound familiar?") which ended up fueling the revolution.
If the king saw the "or" (the French word for "gold") as a tool best used to keep his job, he would have sent word to the other royal houses that that set of gold candlesticks they had admired the last time they were in town were now for sale to the highest bidder. Instead, he kept his finery, but lost his head.
And it would appear that losing one's head for gold has a long tradition. Going back to at least the Saxon's who were gazing on their loot in the poem.
What is it in 'civilized' people that make it possible to go to such extremes to acquire a metal that aside from a few practical applications, aside from the given point that "it's pretty", is essentially useless?
OK, let's go after that one for a minute. Yeah, gold is pretty. It has luster, and so on. OK, so do a lot of other things, including some that we consider truly worthless. There is a reason why they call pyrite "fool's gold". Yes, a lot of the time to look at it you would think iron sulfide is the real thing, and there are times when even experienced assayers have to test the mineral to find out that it isn't the precious metal.
Which brings up the point that the average person, and indeed, some so called experts can't tell the difference between our pyrite, or even Electrum, and gold by just looking at it. With the fool's gold the weight of the ore is sometimes a dead giveaway, but with the naturally occurring compound, which can be from half up to about three quarters gold, is indistinguishable except in a lab. And yet, there are those whom are unsatisfied until the gold is separated from its base and is sitting there all cold and shiny for them.
And most of those would consider themselves 'civilized', even if they just ordered their conquistadors to slaughter an entire nation of people to get it.
There seems to be something that comes with the basic wiring in the human brain that edges one towards being civilized that can also tip that same person over the edge and into an irrational hunger for gold. Something that is not born into those stone age people we mentioned earlier. Something that may be in the peasant farmer and even those soldiers out massacring the Inca, but is not active. It is as if they are carrying the gene for the disease, but without a triggering mechanism, such as a certain level of exposure to the substance, the gene is inert. It is only when one is in a position where the person walks into the treasury and somebody points to a pile of the stuff and tells them that that is all yours that the gene kicks in and the full blown disease Gold Fever becomes active.
But it takes that given set of factors. The person must not be from a stone age tribe as they are unaffected by yellow metals. The person must be in some position where they have a reason to believe that they possess the right amount of the substance. Just a few coins or a small bag of gold dust is below the threshold of exposure to cause the disease. They may have a yearning to get more, but beyond resorting to crime and risking imprisonment or worse, they know they will not get more, so the feeling passes. With the king, or the cardinal, or whatever, the feeling doesn't pass. They have the ability to feed the need and sometimes they get that glint in their eye and their mantra becomes 'more gold'. And unless our old friend Rumplestiltskin appears and gets to spinning, the only place to get more is from the people that have it, or to have it dug out of the ground for you.
Where did what we are now calling the 'gold gene' come from? It's hard to say. It is unlikely to be an evolutionary development as it really serves no purpose to the furthering of the species.
If you asked somebody like Zecharia Sitchin, it was the Anunnaki and others of their kind, or competing kinds, who both civilized man and in doing so dropped into the core of his being the trait for the lust for gold we've been talking about. Those that were out in the hinterland missed the boat, or at least the spaceship as it were, and have been able to pass the last several millennia happily scraping a life out of the bare soil with naught for a possession except their loincloth and spear.
According to Dr. Sitchin (1920 - 2010) an ancient race of space travelers were out prospecting for gold.... yes, they were searching the galaxy, or at least our star system, for "the yellow stuff", to use in the machines that purified the atmosphere on their planet (never mind that it is inherently NON-reactive!) and happened upon Earth which has it is some abundance. But while they were fairly decent space ship pilots they were lousy gold miners, so they fiddled with the genetic makeup of the resident proto-humans making them smarter and giving them certain other characteristics to make them into passable grunt labor for their gold mines. And so we became humans, and obsessed with gold, in one stroke.
To his credit Sitchin did an impressive amount of research into the ancients in Sumerian texts and into Babylon and elsewhere, and he dug through the remains of some truly ancient sites in places like South Africa which turned out to really be prehistoric gold mines, to put together his theory.
Where do his ideas shake out in light of everything else we've discussed about us and it and all that?
It makes as much sense as the reasoning behind saying that all the fuss about gold is because it is pretty. Besides, remember ol' Gilgamesh and his golden chariot? He was described as being two-thirds god and one third man, as his mother was a child of the gods, who were the Sumerian edition of the Anunnaki.
In any case. There is no rational explanation to the occasional irrational desire to possess gold.
... ... or to get chocolate. But mostly gold.
Especially given the lengths some will go to 'hoard it' for its own sake. The gold that is.
Time to wrap this up and go out to the creek and do some panning.
It could very well be that those who can acquire it see gold as a link to the ancient kings and their gods and the power they wielded over the lives of the rest of us mere mortals. They probably never even think of it in those terms. But as over the centuries it has become synonymous with wealth and power, even where it is no longer used as a daily currency, it is still referred to as the "currency of last resort", therefore it is good if you have a little and better if you have a lot. And once you start hoarding everything from gold to house cats, it is hard to stop.
At least with this one, there is no answer to be had. All we have is the story of gold, which in many ways, is the story of humanity. Even the part of humanity who don't have any gold, it is still, our story.
At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.http://www.biblegateway.com
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, "What did those men say, and where did they come from?"
"From a distant land," Hezekiah replied. "They came from Babylon."
The prophet asked, "What did they see in your palace?"
"They saw everything in my palace," Hezekiah said. "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them."
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."
A presentation of a pair of amazingly complex Chavin obelisks
(scroll up for pictures of the site) On http://udel.edu
The Desk looks at The Golden Ratio and other math.
World-Wide Pyramids including China and Illinois!
A King ... or maybe "the king".
Other Non-Fiction and Mystery Series Articles
[NOTE: All listed archeological sites, relics, ancient civilizations, countries, gods, and whateveritis's, are owned by other entities. No disparagement or disrespect is intended. No endorsement of the Desk of them, or by them of the Desk is to be inferred. The author barely owns enough of the subject metal to keep its teeth in usable condition.
The Desk is solely responsible for the analysis and conclusions hereby presented. If the reader has any issues with anything in the article they may contact the Desk through the usual channels.
Back to the Desk's Main page