The people of ancient Ireland snubbed their local gold in favor of more exotic, mystical gold found across the sea, new research shows. Scientists had long assumed that the gold that people in Ireland used during the early Bronze Age, about 4, years ago, came from nearby mineral-rich mountains. But now, extremely sensitive chemical analyses have revealed that the gold had been extracted from an area farther away, across the Irish Sea, in what's now southwestern Britain. This is the oldest gold work in Ireland, said Christopher Standish, lead author of the new study and a research fellow at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Dating the gold artifacts, such as embossed gold armlets and gold oval plaques, can be tricky because the artifacts are often found isolated from one another, he said. Standish and his colleagues analyzed the lead isotopes in the gold artifacts, and compared the values to lead isotopes measured in potential sources of the gold, to determine their origin.
(PDF) Dating the Mapungubwe Hill Gold | Sian Tiley-Nel - netherworldbooks.com
Gold working in the Bronze Age British Isles refers to the use of gold to produce ornaments and other prestige items in the British Isles during the Bronze Age , between circa and c. In this period, communities in Britain and Ireland first learned how to work metal, leading to the widespread creation of not only gold but also copper and bronze items as well. Gold artefacts in particular were prestige items used to designate the high status of those individuals who wore, or were buried with them. Around 1, gold objects dating to the Bronze Age survive in collections, around of them from Ireland and the other from Britain; this is a much smaller number than would have been originally crafted, leading archaeologists to believe that "many thousands of gold objects were made and used" in the Bronze Age British Isles. Records indicate that Bronze Age gold artefacts had begun to be discovered by the 18th century at the least, although at the time many were melted down or lost. Only with the rise of the antiquarian and then archaeological movements were the antiquity of these items recognised, after which they were more usually preserved in collections.
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Oldest-Known Gold Artifacts from Ireland Found
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Love-hungry teenagers and archaeologists agree: dating is hard. But while the difficulties of single life may be intractable, the challenge of determining the age of prehistoric artifacts and fossils is greatly aided by measuring certain radioactive isotopes. Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object. By examining the object's relation to layers of deposits in the area, and by comparing the object to others found at the site, archaeologists can estimate when the object arrived at the site.