Coveted Gold

The motivation of humans to control others, destroy those who stand in their way, seems to spring from coveting that which belongs to others.

I have researched the hunger for gold prior to the desire of Columbus to set sail in 1492 to seek Asia.  Along with that research, I have found that the link to that desire to find Asia sprang from the knowledge of the African Moors. King Ferdinand and Queen  Isabella, in the name of the spreading of Catholicism, were to abolish the Muslim and Jewish faiths from Spain prior to Colombus setting sail.

I hereby share this with you and hope you find it relevant, as I do, to the troubles we have today in our unhappy world.

Flakes of gold have been found in Paleolithic caves, then appear in fourth millennium B.C. in Egypt, archaeologists found mostly beads and other modest items used for personal adornment. Gold jewelry intended for daily life or use in temple or funerary ritual continued to be produced throughout Egypt’s long history. Egypt was a land rich in gold, mined from the Eastern Desert with access to the riches of Nubia. Gold was found all over the world, but countries that dominate today are China (as of 2015, the world’s largest gold producer with 455 tonnes. China purchased a secret gold vault in London from Barclays). The second-largest producer, Australia, mined 270 tonnes in the same year, followed by Russia with 250 tonnes.

Gold has always been powerful stuff. The earliest history of human interaction with gold is long lost to us, but its association with the gods, with immortality, and with wealth itself are common to many cultures throughout the world.Gold was money in ancient Greece. The Greeks mined for gold throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East regions by 550 B.C., and both Plato and Aristotle wrote about gold and had theories about its origins.Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself: portable, private, and permanent. Gold (and silver) in standardized coins came to replace barter arrangements, and made trade in the Classic period much easier. The first money in the form of gold coins appeared about 700 B.C. The Greeks developed more efficient gold mining technology. 

The Roman Empire furthered the quest for gold. The Romans mined gold extensively throughout their empire, and advanced the science of gold-mining considerably. They diverted streams of water to mine hydraulically, and built sluices and the first ‘long toms.’ They mined underground, also, and introduced water-wheels and the ‘roasting’ of gold-bearing ores to separate the gold from rock. They were able to more efficiently exploit old mine-sites, and of course their chief laborers were prisoners of war, slaves, and convicts.

When the Visigoths migrated to the Western Roman Empire in the 370s they became significantly romanized. In 418 they were recognised as foederati, and were granted Aquitane by Honorius. This was the first centre of the Visigothic Kingdom, which over the course of the fifth century extended over the Pyrenees, including a significant portion of Hispania. In the first half of the seventh century, after the fall of the Kingdom of the Suebi (in c. 585) and the final abandonment of continental Spain by the Byzantine Empire, the Visigoths became sovereign rulers of most of the Iberian peninsula. The resulting state survived until the Islamic invasion of 711.

The Goths of Narbonne definitely had a mint during the reign of Liuvigild in the late 6th century, but minting likely already started in 507, when the city became the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom. The Visigothic coinage in Gaul were initially imitations of Western Roman coinage, which ended in around 481. After 509, imitations of Byzantine coinage follow, starting with those of Anastasius I Dicorus.

When the Moors became rulers after the Visigoths, they transformed Spain further. The gold coinage was named  maravedí comes from marabet or marabotin, a variety of the gold dinar struck in Spain by, and named after, the Moorish Almoravids (Arabic المرابطون al-Murābitũn, sing. مرابط Murābit). 

 The Moors, who ruled Spain for 800 years, introduced new scientific techniques to Europe, such as an astrolabe, a device for measuring the position of the stars and planets. Scientific progress in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and Philosophy flourished in Moorish Spain.

Education was universal in Moorish Spain, available to all, while in Christian Europe ninety-nine percent of the population were illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. At that time, Europe had only two universities, the Moors had seventeen great universities! These were located in Almeria, Cordova, Granada, Juen, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo.

The Moors introduced many new crops including the orange, lemon, peach, apricot, fig, sugar cane, dates, ginger and pomegranate as well as saffron, sugar cane, cotton, silk and rice which remain some of Spain’s main products today.

The Moorish rulers lived in sumptuous palaces, while the monarchs of Germany, France, and England dwelt in big barns, with no windows and no chimneys, and with only a hole in the roof for the exit of smoke. One such Moorish palace ‘Alhambra’ (literally “the red one”) in Granada is one of Spain’s architectural masterpieces. Alhambra was the seat of Muslim rulers from the 13th century to the end of the 15th century. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

It was through Africa that the new knowledge of China, India, and Arabia reached Europe. The Moors brought the Compass from China into Europe. See

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see
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