Gold (Au, from the Latin word aurum) is the oldest metal known to mankind. It has always exercised an enormous power of attraction. In mythology, reference is made to the quest for the Golden Fleece by Jason and the Argonauts around 1200 BC. In Asia Minor, Midas, King of the Phrygians, was endowed by Dionysos with the power of turning everything that he touched into gold.
Croesus, King of Lydia, owed his legendary wealth to gold mines. He struck the first gold and silver coins around 550 BC. In early times gold metallurgy was based on gravimetric separation of the metal by virtue of its high density (19.3). Extraction by the amalgamation technique was introduced around 500 BC. In the 16th century the Spaniards invaded South America and discovered huge gold veins. Later, Kruger discovered the gold deposits of South Africa in 1834. Perhaps the most famous gold discovery, the Californian Gold Rush, followed shortly after.