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Gold nuggets formed slowly tens of millions of years ago. Severe weathering caused metallic gold to be precipitated at the land surface near ancient and diffused gold deposits.
Nuggets were found first by panning river silt and later by sifting soils using water or the find. When nuggets were discovered lying on the surface, a gold rush would result. Most nuggets were melted down long before their value as rare geological specimens could be appreciated. No two nuggets have exactly the same shape or weight.
Despite its rarity, gold was almost certainly the first metal to be discovered. This is because it occurred naturally as the metal itself and because it occurred as nuggets or grains. Gold’s propensity to form nuggets and its superb work ability are related.
Gold was ideally suited to being used as adornment and as money. This stimulated the decorative arts and trade. Gold inspired the search for other metals, the development of chemistry through alchemists and the exploration of ‘new’ lands. Modern civilization owes much to the ‘King of Metals’. Had gold not occurred as nuggets, the course of history could have been quite different.
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