World Facts

Which Country is Known as the Land of Golden Fleece?

The Golden Fleece is a name that has been used to refer to two countries in the world: Georgia and Australia

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The nickname "Land of the Golden Fleece" can either refer to the countries of Georgia or Australia. Each country has a different story behind its association with the name. For Georgia, the name comes from ancient Greek mythology that goes back to the 5th Century BCE. For Australia, the name has a more recent origin, being coined in the late 19th Century to refer to its wool production.

Australia

Australia has many nicknames, “the Land of Golden Fleece” among them. George Augustus Henry Sala is credited with introducing the phrase to refer to Australia. A renowned British journalist, Sala, had visited Australia in 1885 and wrote many articles about the country. In his articles, Sala spoke of Australia as the "Land of Golden Fleece" as it was a significant source of wool in the British Empire and was, at the time, experiencing gold rush across the colony.

Unfortunately, the journalist responsible for coining the nickname would later die in December 1885 while still in the “Land of Golden Fleece.” Nonetheless, the significance of the phrase outlived the journalist and became one of Australia’s favorite nicknames. Sala’s articles would be reprinted and stored at the National Library of Australia. The cultural impact of the phrase in reference to Australia led companies to introduce brands sharing the name “golden fleece.” An example is the Golden Fleece, a domestic petrol brand that was widely popular all over Australia in the 20th Century. Renowned 20th-century painter, Arthur Streeton named one of his masterpiece paintings, “Land of the Golden Fleece,” as it showcased Australia’s vast landscape.

Georgia

Georgia, a nation in Europe, is also known as the “Land of the Golden Fleece.” The country gets this nickname from ancient Greek mythology of the Golden Fleece. The myth revolves around Jason, a war hero who was instructed by King Pelias to acquire the legendary Golden Fleece. In return, the king would grant Jason with the throne of Thessaly. Jason would be successful in retrieving the Golden Fleece after being assisted by the Medea. The origin of the myth is not clear, but historians point to an ancient gold prospecting process from the Kolkheti Kingdom as a probable origin of the myth.

The Kolkheti Kingdom stretched from the Black Sea to the Caucasus Mountains, and from Meskhetian Mountains to the Surami Ranges, covering most of modern-day Georgia. The kingdom was known across the Mediterranean for its advanced smelting and casting techniques which were previously unheard of in the region. The Kolkhetians were also known for its rather unconventional process of gold mining where they would tie a woolen fleece to a wooden frame and used as a net to catch gold particles in mountain streams. The gold prospectors would later hang the fleece on a tree to dry, leaving the collected gold to shake off. Researchers believe that this method of gold collection was the origin of the legend of the Golden Fleece. According to historians, Greek travelers might have come across this method in their journeys, which would have inspired the myth.

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