Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/524

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Africa and the countries of Wangara and Timbuctoo. The Moors of Spain and Northern Africa obtained their precious metals from these countries. The French of Senegal lately took possession of them. They still found gold, but no longer in paying quantities, and the once famous Gold Coast at present furnishes not half a million dollars per year. The auriferous sand is washed by the negroes during leisure hours, and they are content with a yield which would ruin a European enterprise.

The Egyptians obtained their gold from the upper Nile and Ethiopia, attested by inscriptions dating from the year 1600 before Christ. Herodotus mentions a king of Ethiopia who was attacked by Cambyses, but not conquered, who shackled his prisoners with golden chains, since gold was more common than bronze. According to Edrisi, there was so much gold in Sofala that a copper trinket was worth more than one of gold. The celebrated explorer Mauch, in 1867, found the remains of ancient gold-mines, but the gold of Africa belongs to the past. The celebrated necklace of the Queen Aalie Topeh, said to be three thousand six hundred years old, and still to be seen in Boolak; the gold chains worn by the Afghan prisoners at the time of Cambyses; the treasures brought by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon's Temple; the masses of gold with which the throne of the King of Ghana was adorned—all these, no matter whether they be fables or not, indubitably point to the former immense gold wealth of Africa, while to-day it produces barely a million dollars. Entire Northern Africa, as far as the Sahara and the Falls of the Nile, consists of sedimentary ground, which never can have furnished metals; but in the interior we find old rock—granite, gneiss, and hornblende—and there the auriferous alluvial soil had been formed; but it appears that it has been thoroughly exhausted in antiquity and the middle ages. According to Ab. Jevones, the natives have been the first to discover auriferous sand. It is, therefore, possible that the interior country still contains deposits, and even bonanzas, but large ones may no longer be expected, since its gold would long ago have reached the coast.

Neither China nor Japan produces sufficient gold for home consumption.

The three chief sources are at present Siberia, the United States, and Australia, while the last two are becoming exhausted. An immense alluvial territory exists in Siberia, covering the entire space from the Ural to the river Amoor, but the climate prevents washing during the greater part of the year. Here, similar to California, gold is found wherever granite fills the fissures. Although the yield of the washings is gradually decreasing, it is really increased by daily discoveries of new fields, and amounts at present to about $28,000,000 annually. The greatest quantity of gold has of late years been mined in America, partly due to its natural wealth, partly to the energy