Beautiful colour and shine, timeless durability, and the relative ease of processing at the same time, caused that since ancient times gold has been used for making objects performing primarily decorative functions. The evidence for this can be found throughout the world, where during archaeological works beautiful and often extremely intricate products and ornaments of ancient civilisations were repeatedly discovered. It is this very characteristic colour, not seen in other metals, and easily noticeable shine that caused gold to be associated with the sun in many ancient religions and beliefs, while in ancient Egypt it was identified even with the God of the Sun - Ra. That is probably the reason why the alchemical symbol of gold is the prehistoric symbol of the sun, which is a circle with a point at the centre. As a "divine metal", gold was a material from which images and even statues of the gods, found in many religions of the ancient world, were made.
Similarly, gold evolved in the secular sphere of the lives of societies in the form of hand, head and neck jewellery of both humble people and monarchs. Small gallantry and even some objects for everyday use were made of gold for wealthy individuals. The noble qualities of this metal were also appreciated in art and architecture, used for gilding sculptural elements, as well as for roofing some sacred building. In more recent times, gold has been also used in engineering, electronics and other fields.
The first gold used the people came from north-eastern Africa, where the traces of its use date back even 6000 years. In the early years, secondary deposits were primarily exploited while searching for gold. It was not until much later, at the Arabian Desert, when the primary deposits of gold-bearing quartz veins were noted. Archaeological studies have documented the existence of 45 mines in this area, from which approximately 850 tonnes of gold were excavated during the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-2181 BC). The biggest boost in extraction and production of gold took place in the period of the New Kingdom (1567-1085 BC), and especially during the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III and his successors. At that time, the main land of gold extraction was the Nubian Desert and it is estimated that the annual extraction amounted then to approx. 25 tonnes (up to 40 tonnes of gold were excavated only from the tomb of Tutankhamun).
The legendary Incan treasures and a mysterious land of Eldorado in South America - it's a separate chapter in the history of gold. No less famous is the story of "gold rush", which in the 19th century invaded California and Alaska in North America. At the same time, rich gold deposits in Australia were discovered as well, with the greatest of found nuggets weighing up to 96 kg. Also, the operation and gold production in Russia flourished in this period - first in the Urals (the largest nugget found there weighed 36 kg), and later in Siberia. It was calculated that about 3000 tonnes of gold were recovered from the deposits of the Tsarist Russia.
In Europe, gold mining flourished in Cyprus, Greece and on the Balkan Peninsula. The oldest European gold coins come from Greece, minted on the island of Thasos around 550 BC. During the Cretan era, gold was extracted also in the Carpathian Mountains (Slovak Ore Mountains, Low Tatras, Transylvania). The oldest traces of gold mining in Europe, however, come from the region of the Alps, where in the High Tauern, at an altitude of 2400 m above sea level, ore was mined by the people of the Stone Age already around 2000 BC. In the similar period the oldest gold deposits on the Iberian peninsula were also exploited.
An important gold-bearing area in Europe was Silesia, where the first group of gold prospectors arrived even before 4000 years. In the Middle Ages, gold was mined from deposits in the areas of Złotoryja, Lwówek Śl., Legnickie Pole, Mikołajów and Wądroże Wlk., as well as in many places in the area of Jelenia Góra Valley (including Złoty Potok, Złotucha, Złote Jamy). Little is known so far about gold mining in the Góry Sowie. However, the exploitation of the primary deposit in Złoty Stok was of particular importance. The deposit is associated with the occurrence of arsenic ore, discovered probably already in the seventh century, and the oldest record of the mining operations conducted here from the thirteenth century. It is therefore the oldest gold mine in Poland, where the exploitation of ore arsenic and recovery of gold continued until 1962, when, for still unexplained "top-down decrees", the mining and production of this precious metal was terminated, and the mine was closed forever.
The nobility of gold is due to the fact that, starting from extraction from the earth and ending with the final product, it still remains the same charming shiny metal going into almost no chemical reactions with other elements. Gold ornaments of the Vikings found in Irish bogs and gold treasures from Egyptian tombs shine as bright and fresh as a population of hundreds of millions of years Australian gold nuggets or recent works by contemporary jewellers. This particular feature caused people to pay great attention to gold as a precious decorative metal and for thousands of years. The durability of gold products has always been connected to their high price. People have paid with gold, bought gold, located their properties in gold, desired or even lost their lives for gold.