“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold didn’t exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals. It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production,” said Standish.
Plus, the gold was relatively close by. It’s believed to have been sourced from Cornwall. The researchers say it’s possible the gold was extracted and traded as part of the tin mining industry.
Standish found something else that surprised him. There appeared to have been much less gold in Cornwall and southern Britain at the time. According to Standish, “this implies gold was leaving the region because those who found it felt it was of more value to trade it in for other ‘desirable’ goods – rather than keep it.”
Yeah, if I were living in the Bronze Age – I would rather trade gold for clothes, livestock and other daily necessities too.
How gold’s value changed over time
Today, we look at gold as purely linked to economic wealth. In the past, gold’s was still valuable – but it was for different reasons. In some societies, gold’s value was tied more towards belief systems rather than economics.
“The results of this study are a fascinating finding. They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later. Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities – belief systems clearly played a major role.”
The oldest gold artifacts ever found
Now, you’re probably wondering what are the oldest gold artifacts ever found? The discovery of the world’s oldest gold artifacts is a recent one. A construction work stumbled upon the Varna Necropolis in October 1972.
It’s located in Bulgaria and is one of the most important archaeological sites for its time period. The gold artifacts at this site have been dated to 4,600 BC – 4,200 BC.
294 graves have been excavated at the Varna Necropolis. These graves don’t just have a little bit of gold either. Check out the grave below.