The very scarcity of gold accounts for part of its allure and much of its monetary value: the total volume of gold ever mined, from prehistory to the present day, would fit inside a cube with sides just sixty to sixty-five feet (18-20 m) long. Yet gold's incredible material properties also contribute to its appeal. Gold doesn't corrode, so it never loses its brilliant luster, and it's the most ductile and malleable of the metals; that is, it can be chased, embossed punched, drawn into wires, hammered foil-thin, and shaped in countless other ways.This book reveals that the ways in which gold has shaped mankind are no less numerous since prehistory, for example, artisans have fashioned gold into ritual objects and high-status ornaments; beginning in the sixth century BC, it served as currency; and even in the modern era it has encouraged wars of conquest and triggered frantic gold rushes. Author Hans-Gert Bachmann, a noted archaeometallurgist, devotes each chapter of The Lure of Gold to one historical epoch, explaining where people of that time found gold; how they mined, refined, and worked it; and how it affected them socially and economically. He devotes special attention to gold's place in art history, discussing artifacts as diverse as the funerary mask of Tutankhamun; Roman coins bearing imperial portraits; amazingly intricate Etruscan and Celtic jewelry; a figuring of "El Dorado," a pre-Columbian chief said to ritualistically cover his entire body in gold dust; and bejewelled medieval book covers, reliquaries, and crucifixes. A chapter about gold in modern society, contributed by art historian Jorg Vollnagel, carries the account up to the present day, illustrating contemporary goldsmiths' work and even Gustav Klimt's gold-drenched canvas The Kiss. All of these glittering objets d'art are depicted in 285 stunning, full-color photographs, which are supplemented by eight specially commissioned maps. With Bachmann's intriguing, authoritative text and these captivating illustrations, The Lure of Gold sets, as it were, the gold standard for books on material culture.