Gold Fever: A millennial history
In late 2012, global gold production was estimated at close to 174,000 tonnes, the equivalent of a 20-meter-wide cube or 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The discovery of this source of wealth has been marred by wars, deceit, and murderous invasions. Gold has always fascinated and seduced humanity, whose greed has driven us to commit the worst atrocities. How can we explain the yellow metal's incredible power of attraction? In a new University of Liège publication, Pierre J. Goossens has examined over eight millennia of mining history in order to help explain gold's appeal.
The unwavering appeal of gold
Human greed for gold goes back to the beginning of time. Its golden yellow colour, its rarity, its indestructibility, its heavy weight, and its malleability (a single nugget can be transformed into a very thin sheet just several microns thick) all contribute to its unparalleled appeal. Gold has always aroused greed and sparked wars and invasions, despite the fact that it is completely unnecessary to human life. Nowadays the dazzling yellow metal serves as a safeguard against inflation. It is hoarded in order to replace currencies that have become unstable in the wake of financial disasters in the past few decades.
(1) Pierre J. Goossens, "L'or à travers les âges. Une histoire pas toujours dorée", Presses Universitaires de Liège, Collection Essai, 2013.