An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

The Four Elements:

EARTH / Minerals


Gold Nugget
[From a now defunct site, "Alaska Freegold"]


This is "History of Gold in Civilisations - An Overview" from the GoldAvenue Encyclopaedia & Diary, whose home page states:
This comprehensive reference work represents the world's most complete source of information on all aspects of gold. Many entries are updated on a monthly basis whilst the remainder are revised every quarter or as part of the major annual update, keeping the reader informed on all key market and corporate information....
Here is how their historical overview opens:
From the very first discoveries of gold along the rivers of Africa and Asia the sheer ease with which the metal could be worked inspired craftsmen to shape it for adornment. Gold's versatility, besides its beauty, recommended it above all other metals. It was so malleable that it could be hammered cold into a thin, translucent wafer, so ductile it could be drawn into thin wires making delicate chain and filigree work possible from earliest times. Its colour and sheen naturally equated it with the sun, while its incorruptibility (which makes the dating of early gold jewellery difficult) made it a symbol of permanence. Wearing it was also a symbol of wealth and power....
Topics covered include the Sumerians, Egyptians, Minoans, Etruscans, Romans, Byzantine jewellery, early medieval Europe, Islam, Renaissance, Pre-Columbian jewellery (this section is especially good), the Gold Coast of West Africa, 19th century Europe, and the 20th century. Many topics are hypertexted with their own pages.

I enjoyed reading the overview because the authors have a good eye for facts and intriguing details. The fact that gold's incorruptibility, for example, "makes the dating of early gold jewellery difficult," cleared up for me the mystery of why I have been unable to find a photo and definitive date for the earliest known use of gold. I would assume it would have involved gold nuggets being used for jewelry by indigenous peoples living close to alluvial gold deposits, but I now understand that there would be no way to date such jewelry.  Thus, although we can say that the earliest known use in an actual "civilisation" was in ancient Sumer, we'll never know who first picked up a nugget and turned it into art.

Sumerian necklace of golden leaves
Ur 2650 BCE
Globe Weekly News: Iraq
Here are excerpts from Gold Avenue's page on Sumer:
The cradle of the goldsmith's art was the Sumerian civilisation which flourished in the fertile plain between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris just north of Basra in modern Iraq. They... traded their wheat or barley up and downstream for other goods, including gold. Thus, in what the Greeks later called Mesopotamia, The Land Between the Rivers, the Sumerian people flourished from 4000 BC for almost 2000 years..... "Sumerian jewellery fulfilled practically all the functions which were to occur during the course of history," the jewellery historian Guido Gregorietti observed. "In fact, there were more different types of jewellery than there are today."
After the Sumerians wrote the opening chapter in the history of gold, mastery of the metal subsequently spread out through a crescent of early civilisations, between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean to Assyria and Babylonia, onwards through Anatolia (modern Turkey) to the city-state of Troy, southwards to Egypt, westwards to Minoan Crete and Mycenæ in mainland Greece, and ultimately to the Etruscans in Italy. But the Sumerians showed the way ahead.
Sumer itself did not have gold; that was traded down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers from the interior of Asia, where alluvial gold gleamed in the rivers of Anatolia and across the Black Sea in southern Russia....

The treasures reveal how well the Sumerian goldsmiths understood working with gold. They used different alloys, and cast cold either solid or hollow ornaments. Using the lost-wax technique, they chased veins on leaves or grooves on beads. Jugs or cups could be beaten into shape from a flat sheet of gold, using sophisticated heat treatment. They beat gold into thin foil or ribbon. "Sumerian work is flavoured with amazing sophistication … delicacy of touch, fluency of line, a general elegance of conception," wrote jewellery expert Graham Hughes. "All suggest that the goldsmiths' craft emerged almost fully fledged in early Mesopotamia."
This is "Gold During the Primitive Period (5000 B.C. - 600 B.C.)," a page in a fine 2008 series on gold (much longer and more detailed than the Gold Avenue entries) by Rafal Swiecki, a geological engineer.  Here are some passages giving a sense of the historical sweep of this metal's use:
And the gold of that land is good.  (Genesis 2:12)

Gold was probably the first metal known to the early hominids that, on finding it as nuggets and spangles in the soils and stream sands, were undoubtedly attracted by its intrinsic beauty, great malleability, and virtual indestructibility. As tribal development progressed through the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic ages, and as people congregated into civilized centres, the metal appears to have taken on a sacred quality because of its enduring character (immortality), being worn initially probably as amulets and later fashioned into religious objects (idols)....

Early references to the first discovery of gold are essentially legendary or mythical. Thus, Cadmus, the Phoenician, is said by some early writers to have discovered gold; others say that Thoas, a Taurian king, first found the precious metal in the Pangaeus Mountains in Thrace. The Chronicum Alexandrinum (A.D. 628) ascribes its discovery to Mercury (Roman god of merchandise and merchants), the son of Jupiter, or to Pisus, king of Italy, who, quitting his own country went into Egypt. Similar legends and myths concerning the initial discovery of gold are extant in the ancient literature of the Hindus (the Vedas) as well as in that of the ancient Chinese and other peoples. In fact, the discovery of the element we call gold is lost in antiquity.

The principal source of gold in primitive times was undoubtedly stream placers.... The eluvial and alluvial placers were worked in the crudest manner by panning or the simplest form of sluicing.

...Size or grade of deposit made little difference; both small and large deposits that showed free gold visibly or in the pan were worked, a circumstance permitted by the low cost of maintenance of slaves, convicts, and prisoners of war who were assigned by those in authority to the gold placers and mines.

Early references to the geology, mining, and metallurgy of gold appear in ancient Egyptian codes, on stelae, and in pictograms and inscriptions in the tombs of the Pharaohs.... The inscription in the temple at Edfu, Egypt, depicting an epistle to Seti I (nineteenth dynasty, c. 1320 B.C.) from the Sun God reads, "I have given thee the gold countries: given thee what is in them of electrum, lapis lazuli, and malachite". A citation recording the extensive prospecting and mining for gold carried out by Seti I in Egypt, Nubia, and Sinai.

The most ancient geological map known, the famous "La carte des mines d'or" in the Turin Museum, is a Rameside papyrus and fragments depicting a gold mining region active about the time of Seti I (c. 1320 B.C.). On it, are located roads, miners' houses, gold mines, quarries, auriferous mountains, and so on....

The ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian civilizations utilized gold extensively, but their sources of the precious metal are relatively uncertain. Placers in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were probably the principal source, although acquisition through trade with the early civilizations of Arabia, Iran (Elam), the Oxus, Altai Mountains, and India cannot be ruled out. The ancient civilizations of Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, and others of the Indus Valley also knew and used gold, its source being probably placers in the upper reaches of the Indus River and its various tributaries or through trade with the ancient peoples of Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and northern, eastern, and southern India....

...Six sources of gold are mentioned in the Old Testament (Havilah, Ophir, Sheba, Midian, Uphaz, and Parvaim); the exact locations of all six are problematical and have given rise to much speculation. Some authorities claim that all six sources are Arabian; others have suggested locations much farther a field....

The page ends with a quote from Genesis 2:10-12:
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is berillium and the onyx stone.
It then links to a second page that explores the possible whereabouts of the biblical Pison and Havilah -- see directly below:

Quartz containing gold ore
Continuing from the above page:
There has been much speculation as to the location of the land of Havilah, the most probable from a geological viewpoint being that the river Pison is the modern Coruh, which drains into the Black Sea near Batumi, and that Havilah is the Pontic goldfield near Trabzon, Turkey. This field is also probably one of the sites where Jason and the Argonauts sought the Golden Fleece, because within historical times placer miners used sheep's fleeces in this and other fields to catch the gold in their crude sluices....  The statement in Genesis that the gold was "good," probably meaning relatively pure, suggests a placer source for the metal....

Midian., often considered the Eldorado of the Hebrews, occupies the northernmost coastal district of Hejaz, Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea and its Gulf of Aqaba. This area apparently abounded in gold in Biblical times, as witnessed by the quotations in Numbers 31:50-54 relating to the spoil of gold taken by the Israelites after the first Midianite war and by the statements in Judges 8:24-27 describing the golden tribute accepted by Gideon after the conquest of Midian. Much of the gold of Midian appears to have come from oxidized gold quartz deposits that were worked to considerable depths in ancient times (Burton, 1979).

The two other sources of gold mentioned in the Old Testament, Uphaz (Jeremiah 10:9; Daniel 10:5) and Parvaim (II Chronicles 3:6) couldn't be identified from any of the references. It seems probable that they were located in the auriferous regions of western Arabia. The numerous references to gold and silver in the Old Testament attest to the importance of the metals in Biblical times. In the majority of cases when the two precious metals are mentioned together silver comes first, reflecting perhaps a very early period when gold was less valued than silver, a situation perhaps confirmed by the fact that most of the gold in very ancient times came from placers whose dust and nuggets contained only minor amounts of silver. Later, as argentiferous galena deposits were worked (probably in Punt, Arabia, Attica, the Aegean, Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, and elsewhere) silver apparently became plentiful so that by Solomon's time the metal was "nothing accounted of" (I Kings 10:21) and the king "made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones" (I Kings 10:27).

Geological references to gold and silver are relatively rare in the Old Testament. In the book of Job it is stated, "Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they find it" (Job 28: 1), and "As for the earth ... it hath dust of gold" (Job 28:5-6) - quotations that contain, albeit naively, two of the loftiest truths concerning the occurrence of gold and silver, namely in veins and in placers.

There is some evidence from ancient writings and workings that gold placers and residual (oxidized) deposits were exploited sporadically in antiquity in the many islands of the Aegean (Thasos, Samos, Siphnos), in Anatolia (Lydia) and the Troad (Troy), in Thrace, Macedonia, and Arcadia, in the area bordering the southern shore of the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus), in Cappadocia (central Turkey), in Bactria (upper reaches of the Oxus River), in middle Asia (Tien Shan and Altai Mountains), and perhaps in Dacia (Transylvania). Much gold also appears to have been won in Spain, probably from a variety of deposits and areas (Huelva, Almeria).

India, particularly southern India, has long been known for its aurificity, where in ancient times much gold was won from eluvial and alluvial placers and from the oxidized outcrops of veins. Diodorus Siculus, in his Bibliotheca historica written in the first century B.C., says that in India the earth "contains rich underground veins of many kinds, including many of silver and gold..."

Likewise in China gold was sought and utilized during the early Shang civilization (1800-1027 B.C.) of the Huang-Ho (Yellow) River, the precious metal being obtained principally from placers in the hinterlands of this great river system and possibly also from placers in Mongolia....

Golden Snake and Jaguar
Courtesy of Barakat Gallery

Gold was known to the early Amerindians, but the metal was not held in high regard in the period covered in this chapter. Later, during the first centuries of the Christian era, gold assumed much greater importance in the Olmec, Zapotec, Mayan, Aztec, and other civilizations of Mexico and Mesoamerica and in the Inca civilization of South America. Gold was not prized by the Amerindians of Canada and the United States, and the aborigines of Australia seem not to have paid any attention to the precious metal.

To summarize: Gold was probably the first metal known to humankind, and references to it have appeared almost from the birth of writing. All of the first civilizations prized and utilized gold and sought the precious metal in their lands and suzerainties or through trade....

The page ends with extensive "References and Selected Bbliography."
Here Rafal Swiecki moves to "Gold During the Classical Period."  Much of the page is about technical mining details but near the end he looks at the myth of the Golden Fleece, making the interesting observation that the Argonauts were early gold prospectors:
...The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer (c. 1000 B.C.), the traditional epic poet of Greece, refer to gold and silver in numerous contexts and locations, the latter probably authentic in many cases. We have also the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. According to this myth, the Golden Fleece was taken from the ram on which Phrixus and Helle escaped from being sacrificed. It was hung up in the grove of Ares in Colchis and recovered from King Aeetes by the Argonautic expedition under Jason, with the help of the sorceress Medea, the king's daughter. In actual fact the Argonauts were early prospectors who sought the source of the ancient placers on the Black Sea. At that time (1200 B.C.) the workers of auriferous placers recovered the gold by trapping the metallic particles on sheep's fleeces placed in crude sluices. The fleeces were then hung up to dry in nearby trees and were later shaken to collect the gold.
This page and the next are a continuation of Rafal Swiecki's Classical Period. Here, he looks at the role of gold in the works of various Greek and Roman philosophers and historians. His fourth page in this series concludes the Greek and Roman section and then moves to India.  Finally, here is his summation of all three cultures:
...It seems strange that the Greeks, Romans, and Indians never developed any precise scientific theories on the origin of gold and other types of deposits despite the fact that gold was mined from its principal deposits (excluding the quartz-pebble conglomerates) throughout their empires for many centuries. It has been said that the Roman in general, and the Roman (mining) engineer in particular, was a very practical man and not given to speculation and theories; the same can be said of the Greek but only in part. Natural phenomena interested the Greeks but their philosophers were concerned more with speculations on the great manifestations of nature rather than with mundane things such as gold veins. Another factor, it is said, revolves about the use of slaves in Greek, Roman, and Indian mining ventures. To engage in the earthy tasks of mining (and geology) was deemed to be below the elite and generally considered to be disparaging of one's station in life. Therefore, Greek, Roman, and Indian writers provide little if any observational detail on geological and geochemical processes. Their knowledge of minerals was limited to only a few species and their familiarity with rocks was essentially negligible. Therefore, they could not have logically evolved any systematic theories for the origin of (gold) veins and other types of deposits.
At the end, as always, Rafal Swiecki provides his "References and Selected Bbliography."

The Alchemist
Painting by Joseph Wright of Derby
Also see: Alchemy in History
Next comes a series of five pages on "Gold During the Middle Ages." The focus is on history, philosophy, alchemy, and natural science (some of it quite fanciful, even bizarre). The fourth page leaves Europe behind and turns to India and China, where the theories are equally as fanciful and convoluted as Europe's.  The final page returns to Europe at the end of the medieval period and concludes with a bibliography.
"Gold During the Renaissance" is another series of five pages on the natural science developing around gold. I found it quite dizzying to read. About the origins of gold, for example, Lazarus Ercker (1530-1594) writes (see the fifth page):
...In addition, there is good native gold in all the auriferous placer ores, which are usually sandy but which are otherwise not all alike: in some, the gold occurs massive and in grains; in others, as flakes and light particles. The washing of almost all this placer ore also yields a heavy schorl or wolfram and in some cases grains of tin and ironstone. These have traveled much and far; together with the gold, they were torn from veins by the Flood, swept away, and collected together in such a marvellous and characteristic way that the colour and distinctive appearance of placer deposits can be clearly and easily recognized. This is how rivers and streams flowing over such deposits became inseminated with gold, so that at many localities, not only in far-away kingdoms and countries but also here in Germany, native gold is now washed from them and extracted. However, most of these occurrences are poor and will not repay the expense of washing.

I cannot agree with those among the old writers who claim that it was the River Nile, which flows into the sea in Egypt, that inseminated and flooded the streams and rivers with native gold at the time of the Deluge, when all the sands became mixed up. Because, even if the aforesaid river is very large and does flow through vast Ethiopia (also called India), where much gold is reputedly found, and is supposed to be the mightiest of all the rivers, flowing the farthest, I still think that it is much too small to have been so rich in alluvial gold that it could have scattered gold into the sands and streams of so many places throughout the world....

Rafal Swiecki comments and concludes with this:
...Ercker's mention of the Flood (The Deluge) as producing all of the gold placers in Europe and elsewhere is of interest because it is the first reference to this particular origin for placers that I can find. Of course the Flood was later to play an important role in the arguments about the origin of many types of mineral deposits, as we shall see later. The various kinds of pebbles mentioned by Ercker were probably tektites (moldavites), according to my observations in the old placer areas of Bohemia. The auriferous white pyrites is arsenopyrite.

To summarize, we can say that the Renaissance was the period when more modern theories on the origin of auriferous veins were considered, and when the origin of placer (alluvial) gold was debated. The Renaissance writers could not quite rid themselves of the Aristotelian and alchemical concepts of matter, but with Agricola a definite trend developed toward acute observation and the formulation of theories more in agreement with the facts presented by auriferous vein deposits.
This is another five-page series, "Gold During the Transition to Modern Scientific Views." Here again, there are many opposing, conflicting, arcane theories, each of historical interest.  Here is Swiecki's final paragraph:
...During the transition to modern views, we see that observations on the nature of veins and their host rocks forced certain constraints on the theories of origin of these mineral bodies. Secretion theories prevailed in some quarters and emanation theories in others. Metamorphism and replacement processes were noted, and the effects of the surface oxidation of veins were recognized. Toward the end of the period, the extreme views of the Neptunists and Plutonists were supported by many geologists, but later studies on volcanism suggested modifications of these extreme theories, ultimately leading to the magmatic hydrothermal theory.
Looking through all this marvelous but truly dizzying material, I cannot help wondering how many of our 21st century's scientific theories will one day seem as quaint and far-fetched.  At the same time, however, I am reminded that many people (e.g., Creationists) in our own age already hold beliefs as "quaint" as those who centuries ago believed the biblical Flood was "the origin of many types of mineral deposits."

Gold shield emblem, Scythian, end of the 7th century B.C.E.  [7.5" x 12..5"]
Northern Caucasus, Kostromskaia kurgan
 From the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Loaned to Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition in New York, October 12, 2000–February 4, 2001
(See below under "Gold in Art" for more on the Scythians and "Animal Style")
Here, Swiecki moves to a new topic: "Gold -- The Exploration and Mining History." It is an often eloquent, fascinating overview (both ancient and modern), as these excerpts indicate:
Accursed thirst for gold! What have you not compelled mortals to do?  (Virgil)

...The Egyptians used the perfect of planar geometric figures, the circle, as the symbol for gold, the most perfect and noblest of the metals. The alchemists associated gold with the sun (Sol) or with the Greek sun-god (Apollo) and represented it by the symbol of perfection, the circle with a dot at the centre, or by the circle with a crown of rays to represent the king or Apollo of metals.

To the early Hindu philosophers gold was the "mineral light"; to the early Western philosophers the metal was the image of solar light and hence of the divine intelligence of the universe....

To make gold from baser metals was a major preoccupation of the alchemists (as were also their ceaseless efforts to discover the elixir of life and the fountain of youth). The fruits of their labours gave us the rudiments of modern chemistry.

Gold has a widespread occurrence in practically every country of the world and has influenced the exploration and settlement of most.... The artisans of the earliest civilizations of Anatolia (Catal Hijyilk), Mesopotamia (Sumer), and the Indus Valley (Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro) worked in gold obtained from many sites in the Caucasus and Middle Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian Peninsula. The Egyptians mined gold extensively in eastern Egypt and Sudan (Nubia) as far back as 4,000 years ago. It was from them that the Persians, Greeks, and Romans in turn learned the techniques of gold prospecting, mining, and metallurgy....

Compared with the gold placers and mines of the Old World, those in parts of the New may be as ancient, although it would appear that the aborigines of North and South America placed little emphasis on gold beyond its use in ornaments, jewellery, sacrificial knives, and the like. Columbus of Genoa found the natives of Hispaniola (Haiti) in possession of gold nuggets in 1492, a fact that excited the Spaniards to later pursue their conquests of Mexico and South America, where in 1550 they found their Eldorado in the fabulous placer deposits of Colombia....

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century prospecting for gold has ranged widely over Canada and the United States, resulting in many great placer gold rushes, first to California in 1848, then to British Columbia in 1857, and later to the Klondike in Yukon in 1896 and Nome in Alaska in 1899. After the exhaustion or near-exhaustion of many of the placers, attention turned to bedrock deposits during the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the present century....

The page also looks at gold finds in Canada, Australia, and elsewhere.  Then it continues with a new page, directly below:
This page continues with data on gold rushes in New Zealand and the Fijian Islands.  More:
...Elsewhere in the Pacific region gold had been sought and mined long before the Christian era. The gold-silver mines at Radjang Lebong, Indonesia, are said to have been exploited in a desultory manner by the Hindus as early as 900 B.C. and more systematically by others since 1700....

The Chinese have mined gold for millenia, the first indication of this pursuit being in the artifacts of the Shang dynasty (1765 B.C.). More recently considerable gold mining has been carried out in Archean, Proterozoic, and younger terrains in Shandong, Yunnan, Kansu, Szechuan, and other provinces. Likewise in Korea gold mining is an old technology going back to at least the beginning of the Christian Era in mining districts such as those of Unsan, Nurupi, Sak Ju, and Sen Sen.

Similarly in Japan the search for gold was in progress long before the Christian era, judging from archaeological evidence; the methods of searching for and mining the metal were probably introduced from Korea....

India has long been the site of gold mining, first from placers and then in more modern times from the oxidized and primary zones of a variety of auriferous deposits. Pliny, writing at the beginning of our era in his Historia naturalis, mentions the gold of India, and the land of Ophir mentioned in I Kings 10:11 in the Old Testament can, according to some authorities, be equated with India.... Large-scale mining in India began with the Mauryan colonization of the Deccan about the end of the fourth century B.C....

...Similarly, the Persians are said to have obtained much gold from the Scythians, a polyglot group of tribes that inhabited the region north of the Black Sea, and from various Iranian and other tribes who inhabited the Ural-Uzbek-Altai region. The golden road to Samarkand was known centuries before Christ....

Gold from West Africa found its way into Europe as early as the tenth century and probably before. Most of this gold came by Sahara caravan to Barbary and thence to Europe, the original sources being the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai....  It is thought that annually more than a quarter of a million ounces of gold reached Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries from African sources....

The page concludes with a brief look at gold in South Africa and then moves to a third and concluding page:
This page offers the following statistics:
...It is estimated that the total amount of gold won from the earth to the end of 1985 is about 3.85 billion (3.85 x 103) troy oz (120 x 103 g.).
Of this amount:
2% was produced prior to 1492,
8% during the period 1492-1800,
20% during the interval 1801-1900,
70% from 1901-1985
(all figures being rough estimates).

In volume the total amount of gold won from the earth would occupy 6,300 m3 or an 18.5 m cube, a small volume of metal indeed to have so influenced the toil, trials, tribulations, and destiny of man for 5,000 years....

The general literature on gold reaches back some 5,000 years, almost to the birth of writing. The most ancient accounting tablets of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, scribed about 3100 B.C., mention the metal as do also the pictographics, phonographics (word-syllabic systems), and hieroglyphics on the tablets and papyri of the most ancient Hittite, Elamite, Egyptian, Cretan, Indian (Harappan), and Chinese civilizations....


Figure of a Golden Bull
North Caucasus, Maikop Burial Mound
3rd millenium BCE
H 6 cm
Russia's Hermitage Muesum
(See directly below)
The website of Russia's famous Hermitage has a fabulous collection of prehistoric art. About this bull:
This naturalistic figure of a bull is cast in gold with engraved details, its forehead decorated with horns tilting forward and its knees slightly bent. There is a round hole running vertically through the back and the figure must have been threaded onto a hollow rod made of silver and gold. Found in the burial mound along with this bull were just such rods and another three bulls (one in silver and two of gold). These formed a frame to support the canopy set up over the body of the chief.

Gold Cup with 4 Walking Gazelles, early 1st millennium BCE
Northwestern Iran, Capsian region
(See directly below)
This gorgeous cup is at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Here is the museum's description:
A number of cups similar to this one have been found in the excavation of the rich burials at Marlik, a site southwest of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran.

On the body of the cup, four gazelles, framed horizontally by guilloche bands, walk in procession to the left. Their bodies are rendered in repoussé and are detailed with finely chased lines to indicate hair and musculature. The projecting heads were made separately, as were the ears and horns, and were fastened invisibly in place by a colloid hard-soldering, a process much practiced in Iran involving glue and copper salt. The hooves and eyes are indented, probably to receive inlays.

Part of the "Bactrian hoard" of treasures,
a folding gold crown dating from the first century A.D.
From National Geographic
This is the first of six interconnected National Geographic pages: "Afghanistan Gold Treasures Photo Gallery." About Bactria, the source of the above folding gold crown as well as other priceless works of gold (from page 2):
...An autonomous region 4,000 years ago, Bactria was overtaken by a wave of expansionist empires, including the nomadic Kushan who prevailed at the time these gold treasures were buried....
This is another of the National Geographic's photogalleries for their "Ancient Afghan Gold to Tour U.S."  This one has 7 pages depicting the famed art.  See below for the dramatic story behind this exhibit....
This is a 2-page 20 December 2007 report by Kelly Hearn for the National Geographic: " 'Lost' Afghan Gold Treasures Coming to U.S."  Here is how the site opens its dramatic coverage of the re-discovery of this "lost" art:
Ancient treasures thought lost in the chaos of Afghanistan's modern invasions, wars, coups, and countercoups will be on display in the United States for the first time, starting in May 2008, officials announced today. The traveling exhibition will showcase more than 200 artifacts from four archaeological sites, including a hundred gold objects from the fabled "Bactrian hoard."

The 2,000-year-old Bactrian treasures were discovered in 1978 in the graves of six nomads who lived in the ancient nation of Bactria, which covered parts of what is now Afghanistan. Russian-Greek archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi unearthed a trove of gold ornaments— necklaces, belts, rings, and headdresses set with semiprecious jewels—from a site called Tillya Tepe. But the finds were later hidden and eventually thought stolen—until the Afghan government found them stashed in boxes in 2003.

In addition to the Bactrian objects, "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum" will display a variety of artifacts dating back to 2100 B.C. The exhibition will include bronze, ivory, and stone sculptures from the former Greek city Aï Khanum, as well as first-century A.D. trade items, many of which were imported from Chinese, Indian, Roman, and East Asian markets.

The far-flung origins of the exhibition's pieces underscore Afghanistan's ancient role as a cultural transmission point along the set of trade routes known as the Silk Road, said archaeologist and exhibition curator Fredrik T. Hiebert.  Hiebert helped inventory the Bactrian objects when they were rediscovered in 2003.  "But this exhibit is really about heroism," said Hiebert.... "These pieces should not be around today. They are here because people risked their lives to safeguard them."....

The rest of the engrossing story is told in full at this site.
Turning to Iraq, this is the National Geographic's "Treasure of Nimrud": 3 pages, including a good map of the region and two golden crowns "from the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II in the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud, in northern Iraq. The antiquities date to the 8th and 9th century B.C."

Gold Plaque in the Form of a Goat
6th century BCE
3.2 x 3.9 cm
Krasnodar region, Kuban area
Ulsky village (aul)
(See directly below)
Again from Russia's Hermitage comes this handsome goat. Data on this Scythian piece is minimal:
The reclining goat with his long horns divided by relief lines, turns his head backwards over his shoulder.
The museum's portal link on The Sythians, however, provides further information:
The Hermitage collection of Scythian antiquities is renowned worldwide, its nucleus consisting of finds from burial complexes in the Crimea, Kuban basin and in the valleys of the Dnieper and Don rivers.  The most attractive feature of the collection is the abundance of articles of applied art from a variety of schools and trends, with objects created in the Scythian Animal style, and items made by Greek craftsmen or imported from Oriental countries and the nearby Classical centers to the North of Black Sea and intended for Scythian noblemen.

According to Scythian tradition, alongside a dead chief the tribe buried his wives, servants, armour-bearers, grooms and horses, and these burials thus contain numerous artifacts, from weapons and harness to everyday objects and a multiplicity of personal adornments....

For more on ancient gold on the Hermitage's site, see the Sarmations and Huns (1st to late 5th century AD) and the Ukraine (mid-7th century AD).

  Stag, 4th century B.C.
Filippovka, kurgan 1, treasure pit 1
Wood, gold, and silver; 16 1/8 x 8 1/2 in. (42 x 20 cm), H. of antlers 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm)
Metropolitan Museum on loan from Archaeological Museum, Ufa
(See directly below -- also see gold 7th c. BCE Scythian stag, further up on my page){FFB57BF5-DEC9-11D3-936E-00902786BF44}
This is "The Golden Deer of Eurasia: Scythian and Sarmatian Treasures from the Russian Steppes," an exquisite exhibition that took place in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 12, 2000 – February 4, 2001:
This exhibition displays spectacular finds of gold and silver recently excavated at Filippovka in southern Russia—works that have never been seen in the United States—along with related Scythian, Sarmatian, and Siberian splendors from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Created around the late 5th to 4th century B.C. by nomads living in the southern Ural Mountain region of Russia, the distinctive works from Filippovka include deerlike creatures of wood overlaid with sheets of gold and silver, along with other striking objects of precious metals.
Additional links will take you to further information on the art, style, and so forth.  Here are some excerpts:
Some two dozen kurgans (burial mounds) at the archaeological site at Filippovka were excavated over a period of four years in the late 1980s. Although many of the kurgans had been partially plundered in antiquity, exquisitely worked gold and silver artifacts in large numbers were left behind, indicating the burial of tribal chieftains. In addition to several dozen magnificent deer, almost two feet in height and with curving antlers rising above their richly patterned bodies, the excavation yielded several hundred elaborate gold appliqués, chased with figures of animals both natural and fantastic, which once adorned wooden bowls and drinking cups....

The art of ancient Iran during the Achaemenid Empire (6th–4th century B.C.) and its relationship to the finds from Filippovka was illustrated by precious metal vessels from the Metropolitan Museum's collection.

Stylistic affinities lie to the east, where there was a similar use of spiral-shaped ornament on the surface of animal bodies. Certain other characteristics, however, demonstrate cultural connections with the Scythians, who occupied the shores of the Black Sea to the west. The items excavated at Filippovka exhibit the same abundant use of gold as the well-documented Scythian discoveries, although the techniques used to create the objects differ greatly....

Scholars believe that the people whose stylistically unique works were recently unearthed at Filippovka were a nomadic tribe that occupied the area around the 4th century B.C. and were associated with the Sarmatian people. The art found here resembles that of other early Eurasian nomadic cultures—specifically in the multitude and variety of animal forms used to adorn every manner of object. Although the people whose works were discovered at Filippovka favored the deer, various animals—including wolves, leopards, birds of prey, boars, camels, elk, fish, rams, and griffins (a mythological animal with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle)—were also found.

"The Filippovka find dazzles us by its beauty," commented Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan. "But these newly discovered works also compel us to delve more deeply into their mysterious history. Who were the people who created such astonishing masterpieces? While the question is debated, we are delighted to provide the public with a rare glimpse of the remarkable artifacts created by a little-known, yet highly developed culture of long ago. We look to the ancient Greek and Roman authors, who suggested that these people—neighbors of the Scythians—may have been Sarmatians, as we display these enigmatic treasures from Filippovka alongside those known to originate in neighboring cultures."

Ca. 10th-13th century AD
Ayala Museum in the Philippines
(See directly below)

"Gold of Ancestors" is about four treasures from the Ayala Museum in Makati City in the Philippines.  About their exhibition as a whole:
The exhibition of more than one thousand gold objects celebrates the sophisticated cultures that existed in the Philippines before colonization in the 16th century.... Similarities in form and iconography with artifacts of other Southeast Asian cultures affirm regional affinities and inter-island contacts that flourished in these archipelagic crossroads of civilizations. Adornments of elite individuals and their deities include a spectacular array of golden sashes, necklaces, pectorals, diadems, earrings and finger rings, bracelets, and anklets. Here, the role of archaeology in reconstructing the past is illuminated, demonstrating how funerary offerings become valuable sources of information for subsequent generations of the living.
About the Kinnari pictured above:
This exquisite golden vessel is rendered in the shape of the winged kinnari—half woman and half bird. In Hindu mythology, the kinnari personifies the feminine ideal of beauty, grace, and accomplishments. She is renowned for her enchanting voice, graceful dance, and gifted poetry.

The kinnari’s haunting allure is captured in the sensitive rendering of this image. Her delicate features suggest ethereal beauty, a bejeweled chignon at the nape of her neck enhances her elegance. The textured patterns of chased and engraved feathers on her wings and tail provide a pleasing counterpoint to the softly glowing smoothness of her skin.

King Melchior Offering Gold to the Virgin and Child
German, Cologne, c. 1510-1515 AD
White glass with silver stain and vitreous paint
From The Gifts of the Magi: Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrh
by Carolyn Vaughan for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
(See directly below)

The Gifts of the Magi: Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrh

This little book (available at the above link for under $4) comes with a small flask of 24 kt. gold flakes along with a pair of small mesh bags of frankincense and myrrh from Yemen.  Here is a brief excerpt on the Magi:
...The magi are frequently represented kneeling, sometimes removing their crowns and bowing their heads as they offer their gifts. In legend and painting, Melchior, the oldest, is usually first, with his gift of gold. Balthasar, in the middle, gives frankincense, and Caspar, the youngest, presents myrrh....
Here is another from the section, "A Shining Symbol: Gold":
Gold was even rarer in the ancient world than it is today, and its qualities led it to be prized for many reasons. Shining as if with an inner light, gold was associated with the sun and the heavens, making it a natural symbol of the divine and the material of choice for ritual objects.... Perhaps gold's most compelling quality is that it is incorruptible, meaning that it does not tarnish or corrode. Ancient people of many cultures connected gold's imperishability with immortality....
This is Stefan's Florilegium, a website created for members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. This particular page is a carefully researched, illustrated paper (with a fine bibliography), "Cloth of Gold," by "THL Cassandra of Glastonbury" (aka Alexis Abarria). Here are some excerpts:
"Cloth of Gold". The phrase brings to mind images of fairy tales, princes (both secular and of the church) and sumptuous weddings. Think of the story of Rumpelstiltskin, spinning straw into gold. Picture yourself at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, located in France, where Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France met in 1520. Both kings brought large retinues, and the name given the meeting place reflects the unexampled splendor of the pageantry. [1] Imagine what it would be like to wear a gown so heavily laden with gold that you feared to sit lest you permanently crease it. Visualize velvets laden with gold in the weaving and more gold embroidered upon it.

The earliest gold threads used in textiles were not threads at all, but thin strips of metal that had been cut from sheets of beaten or rolled gold. Metal strips were also used in the creation of 'spun' threads.

These gold threads were made by winding the flat strips tightly around a central core, commonly made of silk (although linen was also used). Gold, being a very malleable metal would twist around the core without breaking. It would not have been possible to dip or plate the core thread because the temperature required to melt gold would have consumed the core thread. More unusual cores are also known, including wool and horsetail hair. A recent study of the use of metallic threads in tablet woven bands shows that all of the 'spun' metallic threads use metal strips that have been S-spun (counterclockwise) around the central core. Pure gold (or an alloy with a high gold content) in either of these forms (flat strips or spun) is bright and shiny.

 Drawn wire was another form of metal used in textile work. These wires were made by pulling thin rods of gold or silver through progressively smaller holes. This technique occurs early in the work of goldsmiths, but does not seem to have been used in textiles before the ninth century AD. Tablet woven bands from Birka in Sweden (Viking) use both gold and silver drawn wires, including one where the gold wire was hammered flat after weaving....

The surviving examples of cloth of gold were found as grave goods. More examples are found in portraits and historical documents. The reason more did not survive is that when the cloth became too worn, it was burned and the precious gold was retrieved....

Cloth of Gold in a contemporary liturgical chasuble
(See directly below)
From "Needle 'n Thread" is a February 21, 2007 page from Mary Corbet: "Goldwork - Up Close Photos of a Magnificent Piece." She writes:
Historical ecclesiastical embroidery is a pet fascination of mine. Have you ever seen magnificent pieces of embroidery or goldwork in museums and wanted to get up close to them to check them out? I have! But we don't often get the opportunity to handle them and to get up close with a camera, and even if we did, it's not always likely that we'd be allowed to photograph the piece.

This is a chasuble from a sacristy at a Catholic church, and the goldwork is stunning! It's still in use, actually, so it isn't in a museum, but rather serving its intended purpose.

I was able to photograph it a few weeks ago for a presentation I put together on pieces of historical church embroidery. I thought I'd share some of the photos with you so that you can appreciate the beauty of this work of art...

The photos are really gorgeous.
The following day, 22 February 2007, Corbet posted a new page: "Medieval Textiles: What is Cloth of Gold?" She opens with this:
What is cloth of gold? Yesterday's post showing a magnificent example of goldwork on cloth of gold seems to have intrigued several people who have either e-mailed or posted to ask "What exactly IS cloth of gold?"

To answer this question simply, real cloth of gold consists of gold either beaten or worked into long strips and wound around a core (such as silk) and then this thread is used in weaving a very rich fabric, which is relatively stiff, heavy, and expensive. Today, we don't see "real" cloth of gold much, although there are some places where it can still be purchased. Unfortunately, we do see a lot of lamé fabrics, which are "gold" fabrics made out of synthetics, with a bright metallic sheen. There is also "cloth of gold" that's made from imitation gold....

She provides a photo showing the difference between artificial gold thread, which doesn't tarnish, and true gold thread, which does tarnish because it's mixed with silver to make it stronger. She also shares several useful links leading to more data.
This is a June 14, 2007 post, again by Mary Corbet: "Cloth of Gold: A Tragedy needing Repair."  Here there is a whole series of photos of a liturgical stole, most quite lovely and undamaged. But then come photos of a very damaged section (which show the actual gold threads more clearly, since some are coming apart). Here is how she opens her account:
...This exquisite textile made of gold-wrapped thread is expensive, somewhat hard to come by, and, in antique textiles, highly desired when in good shape. Here, I'm examining a piece made of cloth of gold, but which has unfortunately been damaged. The question is whether or not it is completely beyond repair.

The piece is a liturgical stole made from cloth of gold. It matches an exquisite set of vestments made from the same fabric....

Corbet wishes to repair the cloth herself since hiring a professional would be very costly.  She asks her readers for any advice they might have -- and a professional with experience as an invisible reweaver responds, explaining exactly what to do!  Strangely enough, it makes for absorbing reading <smile>.

"Helen of Troy"
Date: 1863
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
British, 1828 - 1882
(See directly below)
From ArtMagick comes Cloth of Gold: A cloth woven through with threads of gold / A staple found in the closets of the rich and royal.  There's no text here but many lovely examples of art as well as a few lines of unidentified poetry related to this topic.

Olympic gold medal for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games
Photo courtesy Royal Canadian Mint
(See directly below)
As I am writing this in the early hours of Saturday, 13 February 2010, the Olympic games have already begun. I enjoy watching the skaters perform but will not have time to watch other events.  I've never given any thought to "Olympic Gold."  I assumed the medals were always the same (except for the year's date), just as golden "Oscars" are the always the same at the Academy Awards. But Thursday night, the 11th, I saw a fascinating report on the BBC's World News America about the woman chosen to design this year's medal.  It turns out that these medals are designed by a new artist every four years.  In looking for more information, I found the above link from October 2009 from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).  This is an except from their coverage of Corrine Hunt, a woman from Canada's First Peoples, who designed the gold, silver, and bronze medals based upon ancient motifs and traditions of her people. (It should be noted, by the way, that most of the games will be on land outside of Vancouver still held by indigenous peoples.)
...In an Olympic first, each medal will be unique, featuring part of an image cropped from two large master artworks by Corrine Hunt, a Canadian designer and artist of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage based in Vancouver, B.C. For example, each medal will include its own signature elements of the orca and raven artwork, such as the suggestion of the orca's eye, the curve of its dorsal fin or the contours of the raven's wing, said officials....

Hunt said she drew on the meaning of the creatures in native traditions to guide the designs.  "The orca is a beautiful creature that is strong but also lives within a community. I felt the Olympic Games are a community, too, " said Hunt. "The athletes may be training but they're always somehow connected to their community, to their teammates, or to their country. The orca is a creature that has wonderful capabilities but can't really survive without its pod," she said....

Also for the first time, the medals are not flat. Instead, they have an undulating surface intended to represent the West Coast landscape of mountains and waves and drifting snow. Canadian industrial designer and architect Omer Arbel, also of Vancouver, created the innovative undulating design of the medals, which were struck nine times each to achieve the distinctive look as part of a 30-step medal fabrication process....
From the Environment News Service comes this 11 February 2010 report, "E-Waste Finds New Life in Medals for 2010 Winter Olympics":
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, February 11, 2010 (ENS) - The medals that will honor winning athletes at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver will be the first in history to contain gold, silver and copper recovered from end-of-life electronics otherwise destined for the landfill.

Teck Resources, a mining and metals company based in Vancouver, supplied all the metals used in the production of the more than 1,000 medals to be awarded at the Vancouver Games, which start Friday with the opening ceremony....

While representing an historic first, the recovered metals make up only a small percentage of the 2.05 kilograms of gold, 1,950 kg of silver and 903 kg of copper used to make the medals, most of which was sourced from Teck operations around the world.

The content of recovered metal from the e-waste material in the specific metals is: gold: 1.52 percent; silver: 0.122 percent; and copper: 1.11 percent. The recovered gold, silver and copper used in the medals came from 6.8 metric tonnes of electronics circuit boards collected and processed at Teck's Trail, BC facility and the Umicore facilities in Belgium. Developed in consultation with the BC Ministry of the Environment, Teck says its electronics recycling process meets the exacting environmental standards needed for the responsible processing of e-waste.

The electronic components were shredded, separated, and heated to recover the metals, which were then combined with the mined metal from other Teck sources for production of the medals....

A new life indeed for the precious metals in obsolete circuit boards.


"A Golden Thread"
John Melhuish Strudwick
British, 1849 - 1937
Photo Credit: Tate Gallery, London/Art Resource, NY
(See directly below)

This ArtMagick page comments briefly on this painting of the Three Fates:
The Fates, or the Moerae, were invoked at birth to decide a man's destiny. Often depicted as spinners, Clotho, at the right, with a spindle spins out the thread of life, while Lachesis, at the left, measures the length of a life, and Atropos, with the shears, cuts it off.
I've seen quite a few depictions of the Fates over the years, both ancient and more recent, but I have never seen seen one in which the thread is said to be "golden." That definitely got my attention. Unfortunately, the page gives no clue as to why the artist chose to make the thread golden.  It is certainly not historically accurate and I'm not sure that it works mythically, since incorruptible gold is connected with immortality -- and one's thread of life, destined to be severed by elderly Atropos, is hardly a fitting symbol for immortality.

Yet there's something oddly compelling about Clotho spining a golden thread.  Above all, it respects the preciousness of the life in question.  A linen, woolen, cotton or some other fabric thread is easily disposed of aferwards: perhaps it could be re-wound for someone else but that seems clumsy. Better to start with a fresh skein and let the used thread fall to the floor.  This would never happen with gold however. It's too valuable.  The malleable gold could be rewound on the spindle and re-spun, again and again, suggesting on the one hand an interconnectedness between all of us, each sharing in the recycled gold of others.  On the other hand, it suggests the possibility that each person's golden thread, whether long or short, might be set aside until one's next incarnation, where it will be subtly re-woven into yet another thread, perhaps needing a bit more gold, or less, but nevertheless of one's own karmic "lineage," a golden thread upon which all one's incarnations are invisibly strung.

I find both the dark beauty and the ambiguity of this painting very moving.

"Girl with Golden Thread"
From Finland's national epic, Kalevala, comes this wonderful passage from Poem 8 on the "Maid of North Farm (or Pohjola)" weaving cloth of gold as she sits in the heavens on the edge of a rainbow:
Oh! She was fair, that northern maiden,
Famed afar on land and sea!
Sat upon the rainbow's rim,
Shimmered on the shaft of heaven,
Radiant in her washen raiment,
In her white and shining raiment,
Busy weaving cloth of gold,
Carefully the silver threading,
Weaving with a golden shuttle
And a weaver's reed of silver.

Swooped the shuttle to and fro,
Bobbed the bobbin back and forth,
With the brazen heddles humming
And the silver batten squeaking
As she wove the cloth of gold,
Carefully the silver threading....

[For more on the Kalevala, see my Finland page.]

The Golden Apples of the Sun growing in the sunset "Garden of the Hesperides"
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Here is Gold Avenue's page on "Gold in Mythology" -- and here are two passages that are especially evocative:
The ancient affiliations for gold tell it all. To the Egyptians the yellow blaze of gold was a symbol of the sun god Ra. To the Inca people gold was the sweat of the sun (and silver the tears of the moon). The Trojan war may indirectly have been caused by a golden apple given by Paris, Prince of Troy, to Aphrodite.... The golden apples, by the way, grew far away in the west on a tree near the sea, guarded by the Hesperides, the 'daughters of the evening', and a dragon. Various heroes from Heracles (Hercules) to Atlas...did battle with the dragon in pursuit of the apples. The story does not end there for golden apples, as the giver of life, are plucked throughout the centuries in myth and legend. In German mythology, the goddess Idun possessed such apples which conferred eternal youth on the gods. And gold apples turn up in a magical setting in Wagner's great opera Das Rheingold. From the beginning gold was caught up in myths, legends and fairy tales about gods, goddesses, princesses, magicians and heroes....

The myths of early civilisations are perpetuated in the fairy tales of western Europe recalling exploits involving the sun or moon, bold princes, forlorn princesses, or wise shepherds. A Hungarian fairy tale relates how a little king and his younger brother retrieve the sun, moon and stars after an age of darkness; the king fights for the moon with a dragon in a golden wood near a golden bridge. A Bulgarian story tells of a shepherd saving the sun from a threatening monster and then calling on the sun's father for a reward. The father's palace was made entirely of gold and the sun's father offered him as much as he could carry. The shepherd, however, preferred a magic horse and rode off to marry the Sea Queen. And in the delightful Romanian fairy tale of Tarandafiru, a princess seeks her long-lost husband with the help of personified days of the week. Mother Wednesday gives her a distaff with which she can spin pure gold, Mother Friday offers a golden bobbin which winds gold thread and Mother Sunday presents her with a golden hen and five chicks which lay six golden eggs. Finally, the princess finds her husband and bears him two golden children....

For more fine material from Gold Avenue, see the following two links as well as the first two at the top of this page.
This is Gold Avenue's "Gold in Literature," a handsome little page with a generous handful of choice quotes mixed in with longer passages.  Here are a few examples:
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations chooses over one hundred quotations on gold and almost fifty for golden. From the Bible's "The city was pure gold, like unto clear glass" (Revelation, chapter 21, verse 18) to Milton's "Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold" (Hymn: On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, line 135), the word suggests a special image, not least to those in love....

In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, as the lovers are finally re-united in the final act, we hear:

Sit, Jessica; look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold …
      (Merchant of Venice, act 5, scene 1)
 ...For novelists, gold offers adventure and cautionary tales. To Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island the lure is buried pirate gold, for Jack London in Call of the Wild and White Fang the harsh life of the goldfields provides the setting - and the call of the wilderness is almost as much as the call of gold. More moving is George Eliot's Silas Marner, the story of a linen-weaver in a small English village, a lonely man but brilliant at his work, who liked to be paid in gold guineas, which he hoarded beneath the floor of his cottage. One day the gold was stolen, leaving him desolate; a desolation resolved one winter evening when a lost child, whose mother had died in the snow, wandered into his home and fell asleep before his fire. When he first saw her, it seemed to Silas Marner "as if there were gold on the floor in front of the hearth". It was not his own gold returned, but a child with soft yellow ringlets of hair all over her head....
Finally, this is Gold's Avenue's page on cinema, wittily named: "Gold on the Silver Screen."
Gold and the movies were made for each other. The prospector seeking it, the robber stealing it, the beautiful woman wearing it (or hoping to). Charlie Chaplin paved the way in The Gold Rush in 1925 as the Lone Prospector threatened by blizzards and bandits in the Klondike gold rush of 1898 and surviving by eating an old boot and laces. The movie was ranked among the Top 100 films during the first centenary celebrations of the silver screen in 1995. So was the great John Huston picture, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart searching for gold in the Mexican wilderness, along with Huston's father, Walter Houston; they find gold, but lose it and their lives over the inevitable squabbling. Another fine band of actors, Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Eli Wallach, Edward G. Robinson and Lee J. Cobb got together in J. Lee Thompson's 1968 MacKenna's Gold; Peck was the sheriff with The Map of where the gold lay; everyone else was after him and it.

El Dorado, the legendary source of South America's gold, that became an obsession with successive expeditions from the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century onwards, provided natural movie inspiration. The best was Aguirre, Wrath of God, German director Werner Herzog's 1972 film of the conquistadors ruthless search for an elusive goal. It was a beautifully photographed odyssey through mountain peaks and valleys shrouded in mist. While the Spanish Cinemascope epic El Dorado (director Carlos Saura, 1988), the most expensive Spanish film ever made was, according to one critic, "a fascinating attempt to get to the heart of myths, men and history".

The pursuit of gold had its lighter moments.... Bing Crosby and Bob Hope followed The Road to Utopia in 1945 as Dorothy Lamour sought to win from each the two halves of the map to her private gold mine. But for sheer fun, Crosby and Hope's road movies may have been outdone by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in their 1937 Way Out West in which these sparkling comedians headed for Brushwood Gulch to deliver the deeds of a gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector. Chaos ensued and some critics rated it Laurel and Hardy's best movie.

For straight forward action, however, the gold standard was set by Goldfinger in 1964, one of the best James Bond movies made from the novels of Ian Fleming.... The movie, made before the Bond films took on too many flights of fancy, had real insights into the black market in gold at the time, with Goldfinger getting recycled scrap gold out of England as panels of his Rolls Royce was based on actual tricks of the trade....

The film industry, of course, makes its own acknowledgement to gold in its annual prizes. Le Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival is one of the most coveted for international movies, while the Golden Globe is one of Hollywood's top trophies. In turn, the Berlin Film Festival awards the Golden Bear and the Venice Film Festival presents The Golden Lion....


Myth*ing Links pages that explore yet other aspects of Gold:

Minerals in General

Money, Wealth & Treasure

Rumpelstiltskin: Spinning Gold

Alchemy, Gnosticism, Hermetics

...Mything Links' General Reference Pages:
MythingLinks Search Engine
Cross-cultural, Multi-regional, Interdisciplinary Collections
General Reference Page  (online libraries, reference help, literary texts, world languages, word-lover sites, help on writing research papers, copyright information, film plots, themes, and/or films representing various historical periods)
Special Interest Sites for Pacifica Faculty, Students & Colleagues(includes Jung, Campbell, Freud, Eliade, Otto, Hillman, other depth psychologists, mysticism, anthropology, religious studies, archetypal perspectives, foundations for mythology & psychology, relevant journals, books, videos, etc.)
Teachers' Reference Page for Primary & Secondary School Education
Menu of Common Themes, East & West:
[Note: check Home Page for updates as this section changes frequently]
Animal Guides
Animal Deaths in Europe: Of Cows & Madness
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Creation Myths I
Creation Myths II
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Food: Sacrality & Lore


Land: Sacrality & Lore  (mountains, caves, labyrinths, spiral mounds, crop & stone circles, FengShui)
Earth Day & Environmental Issues
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Bronze [forthcoming]
Iron [forthcoming]
Silver [forthcoming]
Tin [forthcoming]
Air: Sacrality & Lore (air, wind, sky, storms, clouds, weather lore)
Sky Goddesses & Gods

Fire: Sacrality & Lore (fire, northern lights, green-flashes, Elmo's Fire)
Fire Goddesses & Gods

Water: Sacrality & Lore(water, wells, springs, pools, lakes)
Floods & Rainbows: Mythologies & Science
Water Goddesses & Gods

Green Men
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Birthing [forthcoming]
Rituals of Death & Dying
Rituals of Puberty
Rituals of Weather-Working: An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Sacred Theatre & Dance
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time (calendars, clocks, natural cycles, attitudes toward time, & millennium issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Wars, Weapns & Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Weaving Arts & Lore (cosmic webs, spinning, spindles, clothing)

Down to Beginning of Geographical Regions:

Note: a complete Site Map as well as my email address
will be found on my home page.
This page created with Netscape Gold 4.7
Text and Design:
Copyright © 2004 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved except where noted.

Page designed & begun 4 April 2004, 11:30pm

9 February 2010, 12:10am:

Recently in the Common Themes section on my Home page, I noticed a link to "Gold" and wondered what it was.  I clicked but the link was dead, so I checked my files and found this page.  I have no memory of it but obviously I created it late on 4 April 2004.  All my usual "apparatus" was in place but the page had only two pieces of art: a gold nugget and the Peruvian artifact from Barakat.  It also had only three entries, Rafal Swiecki's "Gold During the Primitive Period" and "Gold -- The Exploration and Mining History"; and a link on the history and lore of the California Gold Rush.  Each entry was marked with "move to GOLD page," which tells me they were originally elsewhere, most likely on my general page for Minerals.  I have no idea why I decided to move them to their own page nor why I then abandoned them there.  Tonight, however, I've decided to grok and expand the links because they fit so well with my recent cluster of pages starting with "Money, Wealth & Treasure."

12-13 February 2010, 3:15am: still have a final series of links to grok from Gold Avenue but am launching the site tonight with this notice:  I designed this page 4 April 2004, gave it a link on my Home page, but the link was never connected.  It's only recently that I remembered this page even existed.  There are still a few links to grok but the site is otherwise complete.

14-15 February 2010, 5am-ish: added more images (including a stunning one from the Philippines plus its link and description); grokked several Gold Avenue, Mary Corbet, & other links. Only 3 more Gold Ave. links to go & this page should be finished.

15-16 February 2010, 3:45am: Fini!

Credits: The Four Elements bar comes from Torrey Philemon.
Note to me: Color for cited psgs = Red: 255 / Green: 230 / Blue: 210 / Hue.18 / Sat. 240 / Lum. 219