How did the ancients get gold?

First found at surface level near rivers in Asia Minor, such as the Pactolus in Lydia, gold has also been mined underground since 2000 BC. C. by the Egyptians and later by the Romans in Africa, Portugal and Spain. There is also evidence that the Romans fused gold particles from minerals such as iron pyrites.

However, the first to use gold on a significant scale were the ancient Egyptians. Archaeological evidence reveals that yellow metal had quite extensive use during the predynastic period, that is, before 3100 BC. Not surprisingly, gold was the first metal processed by the Egyptians. Very few metals are found in their native state, i.e.

copper is very rarely found in nature as an element and iron is normally only found as an element in some meteorites. Iron from meteorites was extremely rare in Egypt and was known to the gods as metal. However, gold is commonly found in nature as an element unlike copper and iron, and most other metallic elements. Gold, while rare, can be found in the form of flakes or nuggets.

As shown in the following illustration of an ancient Egyptian tomb, the Egyptians used coal and blowing tubes to reach the temperatures needed to melt gold. In addition, “slag” (impurities) was extracted from molten gold.