The mechanical technique of gilding, whereby thin layers of gold foil are used to coat materials such as silver by laying or shaping the thin gold over the underlaying surface, has been in use since approximately the third millennium B.C. with examples from Egypt and the near east. The layers of gold foil are burnished together to remove the appearance of seams but the technique is improved with the use of thinner gold and a form of adhesive. Gold leaf of ancient artefacts tend to be much thicker than that of today but by the medieval period greater technological advancement in hammering gold allowed for thinner leaf to be produced. The production of thin leaf is dependent on the purification of gold, gold refining dating to around 2000 BC in Mesopotamia.

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