According to findings of a latest archaeological study, a prehistoric route connecting Ireland and Britain supported gold trade during the Bronze Age. Archaeologists conducting the study are saying that people in the British Isles started trading gold way back in 2,500 B.C.
The team has succeeded in making such a big revelation using a brand new method of identification; this new method traces the origin of different gold artifacts by using chemical signatures. The technique allowed archaeologists to discover that the earliest gold artifacts of Ireland are all forged from imported gold ores; they also came to know that the ores had their origin in Cornwall, England.
The study’s lead author Chris Standish, who represents the University of Southampton and is an archaeologist by profession, said that this finding was something unexpected and also extremely interesting.
According to Standish, he and his team was surprised to learn that during the Bronze Age, Irish gold workers made artifacts using gold sourced from another country in spite of having several rich and easily-accessible local gold deposits. He added that it’s unlikely that Irish people of that era didn’t know how to extract gold as there is evidence indicating that exploitation of other metals was pretty common in the country.
According to Standish, one possible factor that might have forced the ancient Irish people to use gold imported from England is the higher value of gold sourced from England.
The method used for identifying the origin of gold used by ancient Irish gold workers is known as laser ablation mass spectrometry. The method required the researchers to use concentration of the lead isotopes as the measuring stick.
During the study, the amount of lead found in the prehistoric gold artifacts was compared to the levels of lead isotopes found in gold found in the surrounding sites. While comparing lead concentrations, the research team ended up illuminating the history of more than 50 gold artifacts belonging to the early Bronze Age.
The researchers concluded that during the early Bronze Age, the amount of gold circulating throughout Ireland was much more than the amount found in the whole of Britain. This clearly indicates that during that era, the value of the precious metal varied from one society to another.