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42

One man's lock is another man's puzzle. Combination locks have been used since at least ancient Rome. Whether the lock uses numbers or letters (or other symbols), the combination to be entered may be set based on a riddle or some other piece of knowledge as a mnemonic. The lock is meant to be solved at some future time by someone who has the correct ...


40

The Copper Scroll The Copper Scroll is a Dead Sea scroll found in 1952, unique in that it is of copper (with a little tin), has a list of 63 or 64 locations of treasure with "obscure hints of the locations". Although it was initially disputed whether or not the list was historical rather than legendary, a scholarly consensus seems to be emerging that ...


27

From "The origin of metallic currency and weight standards" By Sir William Ridgeway (Google books); University Press, 1892 ... We saw that the Arabs of the Soudan down to the present day prefer silver to gold whilst in the earlier part of the present century when Japan was opened to European commerce the Japanese eagerly exchanged gold for silver ...


21

As Denis observed in the comments above, for many countries, gold would have been traded through securities in the first half of the twentieth century. In those cases the physical transfer of the gold would indeed have been the exception, rather than the rule. That said, there would undoubtedly have been a great many cases where gold was transferred as ...


15

Did it, after all, arrive in Spain and deliver its treasure to King Charles? Yes, but... It wasn't exactly a treasure ship. Not like the treasure ships that would come later. It was more of a down-payment-on-a-bribe ship. The story the OP and their video tells got a little smashed together and mixed up sending a ship back to Spain with scuttling his ships. ...


14

The question is commonly asked (Google the question and you get 446,000,000 answers). BBC News has an excellent answer that mirrors my answer below, but in far more depth and with much less withering sarcasm. The summary is the last two sentences, " . . . to paraphrase Churchill, out of all the elements, gold makes the worst possible currency. Apart from ...


14

This is very implausible, as related. Gold has a melting point of about 1065 degrees Celsius, so melting gold while out prospecting would be extremely difficult. Mixing something that hot with ink is just going to ruin the ink. Looking at how inks were made before the modern chemical industry, the usual ways were to mix a very fine powder of pigment (fine ...


13

Yes, there were. The Russian-American Company sent a party of prospectors comprised of four Russians and six Tlingit indians led by a Lt P.P. Doroshin: Doroshin and 10 RAC employees sailed to California aboard the Prince Menshikov, which arrived in the overnight boom town of San Francisco on December 21, 1848. In January, 1849, Doroshin set out with ...


12

This article (emphasis mine) discusses the Canton System and its silver requirement: But it wasn’t just any kind of trade: China deliberately (and exclusively) exported value-added, refined products (silk and porcelain) in exchange for exotic raw materials (they lacked sufficient domestic silver supplies)—this is called mercantilism. ...


10

FDR used it as part of a plan to fight the Great Depression and get the US economy moving again. FDR needed to expand the money supply, more on why this would fight the depression below, he needed to print more money. But the US was on the Gold Standard; you couldn't just print more money, every dollar had to be backed by gold. So to fight deflation the US ...


9

From a practicality perspective; Gold shared the same an early advantages that Copper did for developing societies. It can be worked by being beaten and by being cast, so the technology requirements to begin working with gold is lower than even bronze. In it's natural state gold is malleable and shiny, making it an obvious candidate for cultures and artists ...


9

There isn't anything approaching annual time series data on these questions, so economic historians have to estimate them from other data. Kugler and Bernholz estimate that Spanish inflation averaged 1.1-1.4% per annum in the 16th century. This may sound low by modern standards, but it was quite high considering that early modern economies generally exhibit ...


7

I'll only provide some data about the mined gold: 9 t p.a. "Production in Asturia, Callaecia, and Lusitania (all Iberian Peninsula) alone." (Pliny: Naturalis Historia, 33.21.78, in: Wilson 2002, p. 27) 190t during whole "Roman Time" in Northwest Spain (I didn't see a specific time range in the paper) (http://www.academia.edu/2105961/...


6

At first, I tried to check the legitimacy of actually writing a book with golden ink, it seems there are numerous sources citing books that are actually written like this: The Archaeology of Tibetan Books Mediaeval Manichaean Book Art These books mention the use of golden ink inside other people's writings, and given how they were written already raises ...


6

While metallurgic ease, geographic access and hoarding habits would influence the amount of effective metal circulating in human society; the fundamental likelihood of the element in the Earth's crust is also informative: Silver is approximately 64 times more abundant than Gold. A society that had less silver than gold was either unlucky in geographic ...


6

To add to @Mark's answer, we may venture that in early times, gold was both rare and amenable to be crafted into jewels that thus displayed the wealth of their owner. As such, gold is a key to an elevated social status, making it highly desirable everywhere. Gold was not the first metal to serve in that role; e.g. some late neolithic tombs have yielded ...


5

My understanding is that the gold/silver value was different in Europe (~1:12) and in the Far East (~1:6), so it was quite beneficial for European traders to buy everything in Asia using silver and come back with gold and goods. China was also peculiar in the sense that they wanted essentially nothing from Europeans, feeling they had superior goods in just ...


5

The Egyptian labyrinth(s) could possibly be an example of actual treasure hidden behind a puzzle. I had a little difficulty finding a source that "felt reliable". This tantalizingly detailed description: You entered the maze from a descending stairway, hidden on the south side of the pyramid, which led to a small chamber. This apparently led nowhere;...


5

Well, there was trade between the Mali Empire and the rest of the world via a Sahel camel-borne trade route established and run by the Berber tribes of that region. We know at least a few non-Berbers traveled that route as well as travelers or pilgrims, but all the direct trade would almost certainly be carried out by the Berbers, not Europeans. The ...


4

The gold of Tolosa was a treasure in a lake where the celts offered many of their warprizes. However, in 105 BC, the proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, Quintus Servilius Caepio, reported the discovery of the gold at Tolosa to the Senate, and was charged with sending the treasure back to Rome. Over 50,000 15 lb. bars of gold and 10,000 15 lb. bars of silver were ...


4

More of an economic answer than historical, but yet... The answer is that it would change very little. Two factors: Silver and gold are not consumed, so the amount available the previous year was still available the current year. Silver and gold are scarce and difficult to mine (from it their value), so at any given period its production would have been ...


3

The book Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler contains a copy of documents concerning the return, on sept 23 1862, of the material confiscated from the consul Amadie Conturie. I have the honor to report that on the morning of Sept 23rd 1862 I delivered to Amadie Conturie of New Orleans Consul of the Netherlands at the Master ...


3

A classical test that does not seem to have yet been mentioned was a literal "acid test": the purported golden item is rubbed onto a stone, after which the mark is treated first with aqua fortis (nitric acid). True gold should not dissolve in it; a follow-up treatment with aqua regia should then dissolve the mark made, if the golden article is genuine. (See ...


3

For smaller transactions, early 20th century literature has a lot of references of people biting into the gold. See more detail in this answer to a closely related question in the history section of Skeptics.SE.


3

While I don't have any documentation, my family has a story of my grandfather's great (or great-great) uncle Isaac Sommer who was the first mate/accountant on a Russian trading ship. He was Jewish (which is why he did the "dirty work" of handling the finances). As the story goes, Isaac was on the trading ship as it was coming down the California coast, ...


3

Most certainly. The famous example is the Delphi Oracle. Everyone who wanted to ask it a question brought a gift. The gifts were held in some place in the temple (apparently open for display). Several times in history it was robbed, and once such a robbery led to a major war. There is plenty of evidence in the ancient literature that other temples were also ...


2

A quick look at the Bible text names two known rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) and two unknown, one of which (the Pishon) flows from this land of Havillah. According to the text, Eden is at the headwaters of all four, which would put it somewhere in Anatolia. A Google search for "Havilah and Pishon River" brings up some interesting maps, most of which ...


2

Before European contact, copper and not gold "overwhelmingly predominates the metallurgical landscape," in the Eastern Woodlands. That doesn't mean gold was absolutely absent and unknown however. Apparently the following article has some information on gold on pages 3-5 but I do not have access to it: Halsey, J. (1996). "Without forge or crucible: ...


2

The best approach to this sort of question is to remember that while people of past times knew less than us, they were not stupid. In this case, you can be sure that they knew that a lake of molten gold was unlikely. So what might they have meant? Most probably a lake with gold lying on the bottom. There are historical records of lakes such as Lake ...


1

You see that a fair amount in resource-based industries that are the primary source of income in a remote (i.e. far from big cities) area. If whatever resource (minerals, oil, trapping, timber) dries up then the area tends to struggle and possibly shrink. I am not sure what can easily be done about it, and many, many smart small town mayors have been ...


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