Monday December 9, 2019

Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland made artifacts from imported material, says a study

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London: Archaeologists have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route, dating to the early Bronze Age (2500 BC), between the southwest of Britain and Ireland.

Using a new technique to measure the chemical composition of some of the earliest gold artifacts in Ireland, the researchers determined that the objects were actually made from gold imported from Cornwall in Britain.

“This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artifacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally,” said lead author Chris Standish from University of Southampton in Britain.

“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold did not exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals. It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production,” Standish said.

The researchers used an advanced technique called laser ablation mass spectrometry to sample gold from 50 early Bronze Age artifacts in the collections of the National Museum of Ireland, such as basket ornaments, discs and lunula (necklaces).

They measured isotopes of lead in tiny fragments and made a comparison with the composition of gold deposits found in a variety of locations.

After further analysis, the archaeologists concluded that the gold in the objects most likely originates from Cornwall, rather than Ireland — possibly extracted and traded as part of the tin mining industry.

The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. (IANS)

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Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery Becomes Mandatory from January, 2020

Regarding the impact on prices, the Kolkata-based jeweller, however, said that there is unlikely to be any impact on prices as hallmarking of one gold item costs "only around Rs 40" and traders would be able to afford it

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gold jewelry
Among so many kinds of gold jewelry items, gold bangles are the most popular. Pixabay

Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday announced that hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts will be mandatory from January 15, 2020.

Addressing the media, Paswan said that hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts is being made mandatory in India for which a notification will be issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs and a period of one year will be given for implementation to ensure that new assaying and hallmarking centres will be set up by private entrepreneurs at locations where demand of gold jewellery and artefacts arises.

Jewellers will also get a year’s time for completion of their registration process and retailers also would have a year to clear their existing stocks.

The minister said that hallmarking will benefit the poor people in villages and small towns who are not able to make out the purity of gold they have been buying.

The Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016 has enabling provisions under Section 14 and Section 16 for making hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory by the Central government. This will make it compulsory for all the jewellers selling gold jewellery and artefacts to register with the BIS and sell only hallmarked gold jewellery and artefacts, an official statement said.

The BIS Act 2016 has been implemented with effect from October 12, 2017 and BIS Hallmarking Regulations 2018 notified with effect from June 14, 2018. BIS has been running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000. As on October 31, 2019, there were 877 assaying and hallmarking centres spread in 234 district locations across the country and so far 26,019 jewellers have taken BIS registration, as per the statement.

The World Gold Council (WGC) welcomed the move and said that it would benefit both the consumers and traders alike.

Idea, Gold, Imports
The idea of reducing gold imports is important, but suggestions ranging from raising import duties further to imposing bans need to be reassessed urgently. Pixabay

Somasundaram P.R., Managing Director, India, WGC said: “This is an excellent step in the right direction, a long overdue policy action. It will bring trust back to the gold industry, benefiting consumers and trade alike. It will change the image of the Indian gold industry and enable it to market our famed jewellery handcrafting skills in an environment of trust and transparency.”

“Mandatory hallmarking would lead to more jobs in assaying and purity verification which in turn will support the gold monetisation scheme, he said adding that the period of one year to transition takes into account business realities and is very supportive of trade.

The decision however received concerned reactions from the market as market players say India significantly lags in terms of assaying and hallmarking centres.

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Speaking to IANS, jewellery trader and former Chairman of the All Indian Gems and Jewellery Federation Chairman, Bachhraj Bamalwa said: “Although there is not going to any major impact on the market because most of the jewellers in the metro cities carry out hallmarking, there will be issues in the three tier and four tier cities as there are no hallmarking centres. Traders in small cities will find it tough to get their jewellery stock hallmarked, as the reach of the hallmarking centres is quity low.”

“Government should take the industry into confidence in order to make the law,” Bamalwa said.

Regarding the impact on prices, the Kolkata-based jeweller, however, said that there is unlikely to be any impact on prices as hallmarking of one gold item costs “only around Rs 40” and traders would be able to afford it. (IANS)