|Gold has been used as a medium of exchange and a store of wealth for millennia due to its rarity, desirability, and high value. Ancient gold coins were first introduced into commerce in the kingdom of Lydia (modern-day Turkey) during the reign of King Croesus in the 6th Century BC.|
The earliest coins were hand-made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Electrum wasn't always desirable. When coinage started gaining popularity a way to standardize the purity of the gold and silver was needed.
| The first technique of gold parting was invented by Croesus: salt cementation.|
King Cyrus and the Persians defeated the Lydians in 546 B.C., and the region became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Through trade and conquest, the Persians spread the use of gold coinage throughout the Mediterranean. The most popular gold coin of the empire was the Persian daric, introduced by Darius the Great sometime around 500 B.C. Production of darics continued for nearly two hundred years, until the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.
|Alexander and his armies allegedly looted some 700,000 troy ounces of gold coins from the Persians. These ‘spoils of war’ were subsequently melted and used to mint coins in his name.|
In Britain and elsewhere, a number of Celtic tribes issues coins in gold. The early Roman Republic issued few coins in gold, their main coinage being in silver, with bronze or copper for smaller denominations. From the death of Julius Caesar, gold coinage came to be an important part of the Roman financial system.