Thanks, Don, for the reference to the Bulgarian gold knife
discovery. Often the original interpretations of date and
significance of such artifacts turn out to be less exciting than
later evidence allows (I just read something from the New York Times
in which some Israeli archaeologists now propose that Qumran was not
the place where the Essenes lived but was a pottery factory).
The BBC article suggests:
The alloy used [gold-platinum] suggests sophisticated metal-working skills.
I think that it is more probable that a naturally-occurring alloy is
involved here. In Jack Ogden’s book, Jewellery of the Ancient World,
p. 31, he says the following:
“Platinum group metals… are commonly found as alloy grains in
alluvial gold deposits, hence the frequent traces of these metals in
ancient gold items.”
Further metallurgical analysis of the knife would help in deciding