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Who Poured Molten Gold on Living People to Preserve Them?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: December 31, 2013 
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What group of people or civilization poured molten gold over people who were still alive? Specifically, women to be buried or preserved, perhaps after the death of a male leader they were associated with?

Thanks so much for your time and consideration,

Megan Sherwood, M.T.P.

? ? ?

Dear Ms Sherwood,

Thanks for the unusual question, for which I must provide a disappointing answer. As far as I know, no "civilization" wasted molten gold on preserving loved ones, though several in both the Old and New worlds used it for symbolic gestures. After defeating Marcus Licinius Crassus's Roman army at Carrhae in 53 BC, the Parthians are alleged to have poured some gold down the throat of the already slain Crassus to mock the greed that had motivated his invasion of their kingdom and his political ambitions in general. Similarly, in 1599 Jivaro Indians attacked the Spanish settlement of Logrono, Peru, seized the ruthlessly oppressive Spanish governor and poured molten gold down his throat, again in response to his obsession with acquiring gold at their expense. Given the 1,063 degrees centigrade required to melt gold, I don't think his pain lasted that long. These incidents aside, however, gold is regarded worldwide as too rare and precious a commodity to use for any but special occasions such as those cited above.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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