Gold was first used as currency nearly 3,000 years ago, around 700 B.C. However, the metal was discovered and valued long before that. In fact, many civilizations from several thousands of years ago made mentions of gold in their texts or in artifacts left behind. Gold and silver were both valued to a degree as far back as 3100 B.C., in the code of Menes, from ancient Egyptian culture.
Gold has also been mentioned in historical writings. For example, Homer mentions gold as a sign of wealth among mortal men in both the “Iliad” and “Odyssey.” The Bible also mentions gold in Genesis 2:10-12, when discussing the river Pison from Eden, and "the land of Havilah, where there is gold: and the gold of that land is good?"
Ancient Egypt was also responsible for the creation of the first known gold treasure map, which led to gold mines in a range of mountains. Also, Greek mythology makes mention of gold. The Golden Fleeceactually refers to a sheep’s fleece used by hydraulic miners that collected gold as it absorbed water and sand. The gold could be collected once the fleece dried after absorbing all that it could. This fleece was sought out by Jason and the Argonauts around 1200 B.C.
Gold was the first metal widely known to humans and was a part of every human culture after it was discovered thousands of years ago. Its shine and beauty, as well as its other physical properties (malleability and resistance to tarnish), made it attractive to people all over the ancient world. It was discovered and mined before copper and iron, and was associated with various gods and even immortality by several cultures. Ancient Phoenicians, Egyptians, Indians, Hittites and Chinese all sought gold, long before it was even valued as currency. Leaders in those civilizations simply wanted more.
The Greek and Roman Empires continued this quest for more gold. Gold started to appear on buildings, in scientific theses, on jewelry, and as coins with value for trading. Mining practices evolved, and with that evolution came more gold discoveries. By the peak of the Roman Empire, around 100 A.D., Roman gold coins were used in Europe, Asia, and Africa, from Britain to Egypt. Cultures and civilizations evolved as well, and as economies developed, they were based on the weight of gold and silver. In short, the discovery and quest for gold launched the invention of money as we know it.