An elaborate gold belt buckle

Credit: Heather C. McCune Bruhn, 2017, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Resource Description

In this two-part module, developed by Heather McCune Bruhn and Sarah J. Townsend, we will explore gold. First we'll look at gold as a substance and examine how it is obtained from the earth (along with some of the dangers and consequences involved). Next we'll examine what makes gold so important: its allure and symbolism in Prehistory, as well as in the Ancient and Medieval world. Then we'll look at the importance of Africa as a source of gold throughout the centuries before exploring some ways of working gold.

A big rock with pieces of Lapis Lazuli embedded in it.

Credit: Lapis Lazuli by Heather McCune Bruhn, Penn State University, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Resource Description

Lapis lazuli is a bright blue semiprecious stone, first known only in remote mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and more recently in Brazil. This module explores lapis lazuli's use first in the production of high status objects in the Ancient world (Ancient Near East, Rome, etc.) and then its use as an expensive blue paint pigment. Since the process for extracting ultramarine blue pigment from lapis lazuli is so long and labor intensive, true ultramarine is still one of the most expensive pigments in the world.