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Gold appears to have been valued by man for almost as long as man has walked the Earth. Cultures throughout history, from the Incas and ancient Egyptians to the ancient Greeks and Romans, prized the metal and placed a high value on it. One reason gold has reigned as such a valuable commodity is because of its accessibility. This shiny metal could be found in running water and didn't require major mining or smelting efforts. Additionally, gold is an easy metal to work with because of its ability to be shaped.
When man first began to use gold it was solely a decoration for shrines and idols and other religious uses. Although the precious metal wasn't originally used as a monetary unit, it was an indicator of wealth. The ancient region of Lydia, now part of modern Turkey, was the first culture to use gold coins. The coins were actually a mix of gold and silver and were used around 700 B.C. to advance trade for the Lydians.
Much of what we know about gold mining today came from the ancient Greeks. The later Roman culture took what the Greek's had learned and expanded gold mining efforts to include underground mining. The Greeks, like the Lydians, also used the metal as a currency and gold soon became a world standard. This use of gold across cultures allowed for trade to occur between countries.
Even into modern times, gold has been used as a currency. Gold was a standard that was used to back up the value of a nation's paper money. Great Britain used the gold standard until 1931 and the United States used it until the early 1970s. Currently, there are no countries that use gold to support their other currency.
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