Gold Research Paper

This sample Gold Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Free research papers are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality research paper on history topics at affordable price please use custom research paper writing services.

Gold is rare, soft, shiny, and highly valued as jewelry. It seldom reacts with other chemicals and can be beaten into very thin sheets to decorate large objects. Its principal use was as coined money after the sixth century BCE. In the nineteenth century gold rushes in California, Australia, South Africa, and Yukon Territory–Alaska created new and diverse communities in a surge of economic activity.

Gold has long been important in trade between regions of the world. As a “precious metal,” gold is uncommon, attractive, easily worked into products, non-reactive, and avidly sought for decorative purposes. Despite being scarce in quantity, gold can be found in many locations around the world, a fact that has made it widely known and admired. The convenience of transporting small amounts of gold, as compared to other trade goods, led the metal to become a universally accepted medium of exchange and standard of value for trade (money).

Gold, along with silver and copper, were the earliest metals used by people. (The working and using of gold and silver are documented back to 4000 BCE. Both metals can be found in a native [pure] state or in other minerals that are processed.) Gold is often washed away from its original location and deposited in streams and rivers, where it can be easily found. Such sites were the main source of gold until the 1800s. Miners also mined gold veins directly when they were discovered at the surface. Until the 1800s underground miners of gold were often slaves and convicts who worked in miserable and dangerous conditions. Even during the 1800s underground mining of gold and silver remained a difficult and dangerous job. In 2008 the primary sources of gold are mines in China, South Africa, United States, and Australia although gold is mined in some amount in many countries of the world (USGS 2009, 69).

Historically, when a large source of gold was discovered, the discovery often created a “rush” as people desperate to become wealthier tried to find the precious metals. Gold rushes occurred in California (1848), Australia (1850), South Africa (1850s–1880s), and Yukon Territory-Alaska (1896–1898). These rushes created new communities and brought people from different parts of the world together in a surge of economic activity.

Both gold and silver were originally traded by weight in various forms, but no consistency in purity and size existed. This lack of consistency led to the standardization of traded gold and silver and eventually to the creation of coins. The first known precious metal coins were made by the nation of Lydia (Turkey) around 600 BCE. Today we still speak of someone “being as rich as Croesus,” who was a king of Lydia (560 BCE). The less-common gold became reserved for royalty and government use, whereas silver became the main trade metal for business.

The search for gold and the control of its sources have had a significant influence on human history as a motivation for exploration, trade, and conflicts. The story of Jason and the Argonauts (1200 BCE) is about Greeks exploring the Black Sea region for gold. The “golden fleece” of that story was the sheepskin that was used to catch gold in the water troughs used in the early mining process. Gold was sent from Europe to China in exchange for silk and other goods over the Silk Roads through Central Asia (200 BCE to the late 1300s). Gold was brought through Timbuktu (Tombouctou, founded in 1100 CE) in present-day Mali, Africa, on its way north to be traded for salt on the trans-Saharan trade route. The exploration of Mexico, Central America, and South America by Europeans and their frequent conflicts with native peoples were driven by the search for gold.

The commercial role of gold has been changing since the 1900s. Gold has limited use as a medium of exchange for the average consumer, but continues as a store of value held by governments and individuals (especially during financial downturns or times of currency fluctuation). Gold, especially as it is used in jewelry, remains a symbol of wealth and status.


  1. Amey, E. B. (2002). Gold. Minerals yearbook, 1, 33.1–33.15. Washington, DC: U. S. Geological Survey.
  2. Boyle, R. W. (1987). Gold—History and genesis of deposits. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  3. Coyne, M. S., & Allin, C. W. (Eds.). (1998). Natural resources. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press.
  4. Green, T. (1984). The new world of gold. New York: Walker and Company.
  5. Hilliard, H. E. (2002). Silver. Minerals yearbook, 1, 69.1–69.13. Washington, DC: U. S. Geological Survey.
  6. Sutherland, C. H. V. (1969). Gold—Its beauty, power, and allure. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  7. S. Geological Survey. (2009). Mineral Commodity Summaries 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from

See also:

Free research papers are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to order a custom research paper on political science and get your high quality paper at affordable price.


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655