Gold, a metal known for its lustre and malleability, held a unique and revered position in ancient Egyptian civilization. Known as “nub” in ancient Egyptian language and symbolizing the flesh of the gods, gold was not merely a form of wealth but also bore significant religious and symbolic connotations.
Source of Gold
Ancient Egypt was rich in gold, primarily sourced from the Eastern Desert and Nubia. The Wadi Hammamat was a notable gold mining area, and Egyptians used a number of mining techniques, some of which were quite sophisticated for the time, to extract this precious metal.
To the ancient Egyptians, gold was considered the skin of gods, especially those associated with the sun, such as Ra. Consequently, it was used extensively in the making of statues of gods and the ornamentation of temples. The capstones of pyramids, also known as pyramidions, were often made of gold, symbolizing the sun and the pharaoh’s divine descent.
Gold in Royal Burials
Gold featured prominently in royal burials, encapsulating the belief in the metal’s divine and incorruptible nature. The funerary mask of Tutankhamun, made of solid gold, is a classic example of this practice. The belief in life after death and the association of gold with eternal life led to the use of golden amulets and jewelry in burials.
Symbol of Wealth and Power
Owning gold was a clear indication of wealth and power. Pharaohs and nobility displayed their affluence through elaborate gold jewelry and artefacts. Gold was also used as a diplomatic gift, presented to foreign dignitaries or given as tributes.
Ancient Egyptians developed advanced goldworking techniques. They mastered the art of beating gold into thin sheets for gilding, and they could also cast intricate gold pieces, inlay gold into other materials, and create gold wire.
In ancient Egypt, gold was far more than a precious metal. It was integral to religious rites, a symbol of social status, and a mark of Egypt’s economic strength. The gleam of gold resonates throughout Egypt’s history, leaving a rich legacy that underscores the civilization’s grandeur and its lasting impact on human culture.
Wikipedia: Ancient Egypt
History Channel: Ancient Egypt
Live Science: Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt for Kids
British Museum: Ancient Egypt