It is probably the first metal discovered by man. Gold and the search for it have been among the major factors in exploration, conquest, and growth of civilization.

Archaeological studies have shown that the goldsmith's art dates from at least 4000 B.C in Mesopotamia and that it then spread troughtout the whole group of ancient civilizations around the eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt. It also arose in the New World in the Pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Mexico, as well as in the Asian civilizations. The earliest written records of all nations mention gold and its uses and value

More recently, alchemy, based on the search for the Philosopher's Stone which would convert base metals to gold, contributed to chemistry, medicine and metallurgy.