Archaeologists at the University of Southampton recently analyzed a collection of more than fifty (50) old artifacts residing in Ireland. After taking a careful look at the items, they came to the conclusion that ancient Irishmen used to prefer using English gold in their crafts.
The researches say that this establishes the existence of a trading route that started as far back as the early Bronze Age (2500 BC), and the gold itself is believed to have been imported from the Cornwall region in the southwest of England.
The discovery both baffled and intrigued scientists, with Chris Standish, lead author on the study, informing that Ireland had its very own rich and easy to get to gold supply, and therefore would have no need to import it from neighboring countries.
He goes on to explain that it is highly unlikely that the Irish had no knowledge of how to extract gold at the time. There is historical proof documenting that they were exploiting other metals on a large scale.
It is because of this that the lead author theorized that Irish craftsmen most likely liked the mythology associated with English gold. They simply found it commercial to give their accessories an exotic origin, a feat that could easily be achieved by using gold dressed in values and traits associated with another place that the members of the country had limited access to. It is one of the main principals that advertisers and branding experts apply to products today in order to make them more appealing to consumers.
In order to examine the gold on the ancient artifacts residing at the National Museum of Ireland, and determine its origins, the team of researchers used a technique called laser ablation mass spectrometry.
This allowed them to measure the levels of lead isotopes found in the gold used to make the items, then compare the results to those taken from samples of gold deposits from a variety of locations across Ireland and England. The results were that English region of Cornwall was most likely the place from where the gold was imported.
However, historical evidence suggests that Cornwall wasn’t mined for its gold during the Bronze Age, but rather that the gold was found in its rivers and extracted using a panning technique.
The region seems to have focused more on making a profit from exporting the gold, rather then keeping it “home” as Chris Standish gave a statement saying that “Perhaps what is most interesting is that during this time, compared to Ireland, there appears to be much less gold circulating in Cornwall and southern Britain. his 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”.
The theory is backed by the fact that gold did not always have the economic value that it has today. The team of experts even informs that some ancient societies did not attach any economic value to gold whatsoever. What made the metal precious to them was the fact that it was closely linked to various superstitions, legends and supernatural powers, making it appeal to peoples’ belief systems and religious systems.
The amount of gold that passed through the trading route during the early Bronze Age is estimated to have had a value of 440 pounds at the time. Today its value is much closer to $7.6 billion.
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