Researchers believe that Southwest England featured a prehistoric gold trade, creating a bit of a gold rush in the region during the Bronze Age. The team uncovered evidence that suggests a trade took place between Ireland and Britain, which would coordinate directly with what scientists and researchers had previously thought would have been apparent during this time frame.
Chris Standish, the lead author of the study pointed out that, “This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artifacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally.” The findings are interesting, but also surprising given that this wasn’t the first thing on the researchers radar to this point.
He went on to point out that it wasn’t something that could be extracted in Ireland at the time, so it likely held significant value, and ultimately this is why it was traded between these two locations. That being said though, it would have created a bit of a gold rush in the region. He continued, “It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production.”
Alistair Pike, the co-author of the study pointed out that, “The results of this study are a fascinating finding. They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later.” That’s interesting because it completely contradicts the way gold was treated in modern times. Today there is a very clear value on gold. However, during this period – different groups of people held different things as “valuable.”
Continuing with that train of thought, Pike went on pointing out that, “Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities — belief systems clearly played a major role.”
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The research was conducted in coordination with the University of Bristol and explains a lot about society and culture during this period. While the findings as it pertains to gold are interesting, that doesn’t specifically hold a lot of value. This, on the other hand, is significant because it shows just how important various items were in varying cultures around the world. Standish highlighted this point when he pointed out that the findings implied, “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.”