© AMNH Exhibitions
Its Latin name, aurum, means "glowing dawn." Though extremely rare, it is found on nearly every continent. It is prized above all other metals. It is gold.
With its distinctive combination of qualities, gold may well have been the first metal worked by humans. It was easily visible in stream- and riverbeds; it was easily shaped because it is soft; its alluring luster never grew dull. Over thousands of years, the pursuit of gold launched explorers, built empires and inspired artists. Gold itself became a symbol of wealth, beauty, purity, spirituality and the afterlife.
© AMNH / Rod Mickens
The entrance to the Gold exhibition.
Today, gold is increasingly difficult to mine, but the demand for gold continues to grow. Gold's high status and value are unsurpassed around the world, its pivotal role in human history unending.