GOING FOR GOLD

 

Gold was probably first found on the ground and used by prehistoric man in tool-making. In ancient times, it was made into plates, cups, vases and vessels of all kinds, and of course, jewelry. The first use of gold as money occurred in Anatolia in 670 BC, but it has always been accepted as money anywhere in the world. Sailors, for example, wore a gold earring.

If they were shipwrecked, they could exchange it to get home again. Gold is still given to military pilots for the same reason. People have always been fascinated by gold. How many times have people’ killed others and how many lives have been lost for it?

The gold of the Pharaohs was stolen from their tombs in the Pyramids. The Inca and Aztec empires were destroyed for gold. Later in history, hundreds of men from other civilizations died in the jungles of South America as they searched for the golden city of Eldorado. In 1849, thousands of people left their homes to join the California Gold Rush. Many were killed by Indians and diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, chicken pox and the Black Death.

Pure gold is rare both in nature and in manufacturing. It is usually mixed with other metals. The proportion of gold is shown in carats. If the carat number is high, this means there is more gold but fewer other metals in it. Pure gold is twenty four carat and the cheapest is nine carat. The word carat comes from the Greek word, keration, which means a carob seed.

These seeds were used to weigh gold and diamonds.
Most gold today is found in South Africa (612 tons a year) and North America (459 tons a year). About 83% of it is used for jewelry. Of the rest, about 9% is used by industry, about 6% is used for coins and 2% is made into gold teeth. Gold is usually found in very small pieces or nuggets. The largest nugget, the Holtermann Nugget, was found in 1872 in Australia. Its weight was 214 kilograms.

The largest reserves of gold are held in the USA in the Federal Reserve Bank and at Fort Knox. The second biggest stores are held by the Bank of England and the Bank of France. Not all of this gold belongs to the governments of these countries. A lot of it is owned by companies, other governments and individuals. When gold is bought and sold, it isn’t usually moved. Only the names on a piece of paper are changed. The gold itself stays in the bank.

Today, gold is still the most important and valuable metal. And man has used it in many different fields. For example, in the 1920s doctors in France started using gold to treat a disease called rheumatoid arthritis. In the 1960s, scientists used gold-coated mirrors to maximize infrared reflection. In the 1980s, car manufacturers used gold for the metal parts of airbags.

 

QUESTIONS

 

A. What do the following refer to?
1. they (para. 1)
2. It (para. 2)
3. its (para. 3) the weight of ___________ _
4. these countries (para. 4)
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B. Find words in the text that mean the following. Write only ONE word on each line,
and do not change the form of the word.
1. attracted (para. 1) (adD
2. illnesses (para. 1) (n) .
3. small pieces (para. 3) (n)
4. areas of activity or interest (para. 5) (n)
C. Mark the following statements True (T) or False (F).
T F 1. The first gold coins appeared in Anatolia.
T F 2. The Inca and The Aztec empires always fought with each other for gold.
T F 3. Keration was used to weigh carob seeds in Greece.
T F 4. Only 2% of gold is used in dentistry.
T F 5. The American government owns all the gold in Fort Knox.
T F 6. When companies buy or sell gold, it is usually kept in the bank.
D. Answer the following questions.
1. What was the first use of gold?
2. Why is nine carat gold the cheapest?
3. Give two examples of how people used gold in the twentieth century.

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