The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession

For as long as civilization has stood gold has been a central force of power in society. Used as a means for trade, it is a metal which accumulated amount directly conveys how wealthy a person or society is.

Throughout time, gold has been used by humanity to purchase everything under the sun. It has been a reason for extensive wars, for corruption and comprehensive trade. But why gold? What makes gold the go-to foundation for money?

The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession seeks this answer, digging through thousands of years of human history to find it. The documentary series visits the subject through 3 episodes, sweeping history to understand everything about gold, what it means to us and what we’ve made it to become.

Episode 1

Episode 1

The first episode takes a look at what gold meant for ancient civilizations like ancient Egypt, ancient Greek, the Inca, the Maya and many others. We find out that gold is percieved as eternal, something that will outlast even catastrophes and the end of time.

Some of these ancient civilizations saw gold as resembling the glory of the sun and a thing of god-like properties. By being so easy to smelt and work with gold became the de-facto metal to use in precious commodities.

Episode 2

Episode 2

Episode 2 delves into some of the nations who were rich with gold, a dangerous feature – as other more powerful nations sought to usurb these countries and harvest their rich gold reserves.

The colonial ages saw many European expeditions hellbent on gaining more gold and power. The lust for gold was high as countries like Spain sent out conquistadors to find wealth and prosperity. The Spanish conquistadors destroyed, raped and murdered entire civilizations with millions of people, all in the pursuit of greedily amassing more gold.

Episode 3

Episode 3

The Power of Gold continues in episode 3. Here we’ll visit more recent times in history where large-scale gold rushes happened. Gold being found in non-populated land creates a craze amongst those who hear about it, starting huge human migrations ready to dig for wealth and fortune. This episode also visits some of the many modern wars created in the wake of greed and the never-ending human obsession for gold.

The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession
  • Info
  • Release date2003
  • Full runtime2h 30min
  • Directed bySarah Novello Ruckley
  • Narrated byPaul Darrow
  • AdaptationBased on the book of the same name by Peter L. Bernstein
Written