History of Turkish Gold

Gold has captivated the imagination and passions of civilizations for thousands of years, forming the basis of early currency and trade all over the world.  It is surprising how the earliest Anatolian civilizations demonstrated advanced knowledge of metal ores and mining practices dating back to the Neolithic period ca. 9,000 BC.

The earliest Anatolian gold artefacts were discovered at Alacahoyuk (modern Corum), which dates to the early Bronze Age, ca. 3,000 BC. By this time, the inhabitants of Anatolia (modern Turkey) had developed sophisticated technology for manufacturing metals.

Gold played a major part in the advance of many Anatolian civilizations and evidence can still be seen to this day through ancient mine workings across some of the countries largest modern day deposits.

In Turkey fine native gold is often found in quartz veins in hydrothermally altered volcanic rocks.  Early civilizations lacking knowledge of extraction techniques, and an understanding of geology,  sourced gold from placer deposits in streams or rivers.  One such river, rich in alluvial gold, is the Gediz (River Hermus of antiquity) which drains the region of the Boz Sira Mountains to the east of Izmir.  As the second largest river draining the Anatolian plateau into the Aegean, the Gediz is steeped in legend from King Midas through to the great riches of King Croesus and the earliest minted gold coins of Lydia (ca.650 BC).

As the alluvial deposits in Anatolia were exhausted of their gold, oxidized zones of gold-quartz and sulphide deposits began to be exploited.  Where bedrock quartz deposits were used, the separation of native gold from quartz, was accomplished by hand picking, crushing, milling and finally washing of the residues.

Turkish Gold Today

In the 1980s there was renewed interest in Turkish gold deposits, as both geologists and archaeologists began significant research into the location of gold sources from over 2,000 years ago.  The gold hoards of Galatia, Phrygia, Lydia  and Troy stood as testament to the rich geology that lay beneath western Turkey.  Today, gold is being extracted once more and Turkey is now the leader in European gold production.

It is notable that the focal point for exploration and mining has been the provinces of western Turkey, where many of these great archaeological finds were made. The first modern gold mine is Ovacik (1 Moz), which lies 100 km north of Izmir and just kilometres from modern day Bergama (ancient Pergamon). The second mine is Kisladag (5.5 Moz), located 180 kilometres east of Izmir , near the town of Usak.

The major gold deposits of Turkey run across the following three regions;

  • Western Anatolia Volcanic and Extensional Province in western Turkey
  • Pontide Mellatogenic Province in northeastern Turkey
  • Bitlis Mettalogenic Belt in southeastern Turkey

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