4600 B.C. Ancient civilizations begin to use gold as jewelry because of its beauty.
1500 B.C. The gold-bearing regions of ancient Nubia make Egypt a wealthy nation.
1323 B.C. Egyptians create Tutankhamun's funeral mask, a triumph of gold craftsmanship.
1200 B.C. Egyptians master the art of beating gold into leaf and develop the lost-wax jewelry casting technique, still used today.
1091 B.C. Squares of gold, about the size of postage stamps, become a form of money in China.
560 B.C. The first gold coins are minted in Lydia, now a region in Turkey, after a refining breakthrough ensures consistent purity.
334 B.C. Alexander the Great and his army cross the Hellespont into the Persian Empire, seizing gold now valued at up to $980 million.
218 B.C.–202 B.C. The Romans gain access to Spain's gold-mining region during the Second Punic War.
58 B.C. Julius Caesar conquers ancient Gaul, acquiring enough gold to repay all of Rome's debts.
50 B.C. The Romans issue a gold coin, the aureus, which circulates for almost 400 years.
309 A.D. Roman Emperor Constantine launches the gold solidus. It circulates for nearly 1,000 years in various forms..
696 An Islamic gold coin, the dinar, is minted in Damascus.
1284 Venice introduces the gold ducat, whose weight and purity remain unchanged for 500 years.
1492 Christopher Columbus discovers the new world, leading to the Spanish Conquest. By 1510, Inca gold from Colombia and Peru pours into Spain.
1663 The Guinea, named after Africa's "Gold Coast," is first minted in Britain and becomes its main circulating coin.
1694 The Bank of England, the first central bank to have gold reserves, is established.
1700 Gold is discovered in Brazil, which becomes the world's largest gold producer by 1720, tripling the world's output.
1717 Sir Isaac Newton, master of the Royal Mint, fixes the price of gold at £3.17s.10d, essentially putting Britain on a gold standard until 1931.
1787 Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith, strikes the first U.S. gold coin.
1792 The Coinage Act places the U.S. on a bimetallic silver-gold standard.
1817 Britain introduces the sovereign, a gold coin valued at one pound sterling. It becomes the dominant coin in international trade for the next 100 years.
1837 Gold weight in the U.S. dollar is lessened so that an ounce is valued at $20.67.
1848 John Marshall finds gold flakes while building a sawmill near Sacramento, triggering the California gold rush. The discovery transforms world gold production, which escalates tenfold during the next decade.
1852-1853 Britain and France mint substantial quantities of gold coins from California and Australia. Gold begins to take over from silver as the most widely circulating currency.
1862 The Latin Monetary Union is established, setting standards for silver and gold coins in France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and, later, Greece. The countries accept each other's coins as legal tender.
1871 Germany issues the mark, a new currency based on gold. Ten more European countries join the gold standard during the 1870s, leading to a collapse in the silver price, as nations disposed of silver coins.
1873 The U.S. adopts an unofficial gold standard after silver is eliminated.
1887 John Steward MacArthur patents the MacArthur-Forrest process for using cyanide to extract gold from ore, leading to the extraction of gold in South Africa.
1896 William Jennings Bryan urges a return to a bimetallic system in his "Cross of Gold" speech at the Democratic national convention.
1898 Prospectors discover gold in Klondike, Alaska, prompting the century's final gold rush.
1900 The U.S. adopts the gold standard through passage of the Gold Standard Act.
1913 The Federal Reserve Act requires backing Federal Reserve Notes 40% in gold.
1931 Britain abandons the gold standard.
1933 President Roosevelt prohibits private holdings of gold coins, bullion and certificates to alleviate a banking panic.
1934 The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 gives the government permanent title to all monetary gold and halts minting of gold coins. Only Federal Reserve Banks may hold certificates, putting the U.S. on a limited gold bullion standard. President Roosevelt reduces the dollar by increasing the gold price to $35 per ounce.
1935 Construction begins on the bullion depository at Fort Knox, Ky.
1944 The Bretton Woods agreement establishes the basis of the post-war monetary system. The U.S. dollar is set to maintain a conversion rate of $35 to one ounce of gold.
1961 Central banks of the U.S., U.K., and six European countries form the London Gold Pool and agree to buy and sell at $35.09 per ounce.
1968 The London Gold Pool collapses, leaving the U.S., Britain and other European nations unable to maintain the gold price at $35. The gold price begins to float freely for the first time.
1971 President Nixon closes the "gold window," stopping all gold sales and purchases and ending conversion of foreign-held dollars into gold.
1973 U.S. devalues the dollar and raises the official selling price of gold to $42.22 ounce. Dollar selling continues, which leads to currencies being allowed to float freely.
1975 Americans are allowed to hold gold other than jewelry for first time since l933. Krugerrand sales and gold-futures trading begin in the U.S.
1976–1980 The International Monetary Fund abolishes its official gold price, freeing governments to trade gold in private markets.
1980 Gold reaches an intraday high of $875 on Jan. 21 but falls to $591 by year-end.
1981 The U.S. forms a Gold Commission to make recommendations on government policies about the role of gold in domestic and world-wide monetary systems.
1999 The euro is introduced, backed by a new European Central Bank holding 15% of reserves in gold. The Bank of England sells half of the U.K.'s gold stocks, pushing down prices to $250 an ounce.
1999 Europe's central banks enter the Central Bank Gold Agreement, which limits their annual sales of gold into the market. This action stimulates a rise in the gold price during the next decade.
2009 Central banks return to buying gold for the first time in two decades.
2011 Gold hits an intraday high of $1,445 on March 7.
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