Gold In Ancient Egypt

Contrary to popular belief, gold, to the ancient Egyptians was limited to religious purposes. They believed that it was divine, and due to its color, associated it with their sun gold, Horus. 

Examples of the religious uses of ancient Egyptian gold include funerary masks, small religious statues, and royal jewelry and artifacts. Arguably, one of the most famous relics is the funerary mask of King Tutankhamen that was found inside his coffin.

One of the main production centers of ancient Egyptian gold is in a place called Nubia, south of the kingdom that became part of Egypt when she was conquered in 1500 BC. Ancient papyrus documents identify over 1,300 gold mines all over Egypt. Most of them in the desert valleys east of the Nile River. 

How did ancient Egyptians mine gold without all the equipment that we have today?

Gold mines of ancient Egypt used simple techniques to acquire the precious metal. Surface mining was a common practice. This is where soil and rock covering the mineral deposit were removed. Another technique was to pour water inside a giant piece of fleece (wool side turned inward) along with ore bearing soil. The fleece was shaken by two men, and then opened up to let the water with the soil gush out, leaving the gold stuck to the wool. This was usually done standing in rivers or streams. 

The general population did not wear gold or any other metal, as it had no economic importance to them. Workers were wither paid with food or other useful items, not gold. The annual gold production of ancient Egypt was thought not to have exceeded one ton per year.