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Aurum, Gold

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102                                        AURUM.
the other materials left in the crucible, but get the gold quite pure, but slightly diminished in weight. The discovery of these mines dates very far back; probably they were found out by the ancient kings."
It may here be remarked that this method of refining the dust was a very perfect operation, as nothing can exceed the purity of the gold issued by the Ptolemies. Yet it is certain that the native Egyptian metal contained a large alloy of silver, for the jewelry of the independent dynasty is invariably of electrum, or little better. Sir G. Wilkinson has observed that wherever the rocks in any part of Egypt show veins of quartz they exhibit traces of former exploration by the ancients in search of gold, the quartz lying about in fragments, broken very small, in order to discover the traces of the precious metal.
The Gauls, on the first invasion of their country by the Romans, possessed enormous quantities of gold made up into torques and armlets. These were not the spoils of more civilised countries, for they appeared thus decorated on their first in­vasions of Italy and Greece—Virgil's Gauls scaling the Capitol, " lactea colla, auro innectuntur." Caesar's conquest of that country so flooded Rome with gold, that, according to Suetonius, the pound weight was exchanged for only 3000 sesterces, or 750 denarii, or 1 : 8, the usual proportion being 1:13 ; but it must be remembered the Gallic native gold is of a somewhat low standard, holding copper as well as silver. Diodorus Siculus, a contem­porary of Julius Caesar, leaves no doubt upon the first point. His words (v. 27) are, " In Gaul silver is not found at all, but gold in plenty,3 which nature supplies to the inhabitants without either mining or any trouble. For the course of their rivers, being full of sinuosities, and dashing against the banks of the
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King. Natural History of Precious Stones.