During the period around the seventh century BC coins first came into use independently in three parts of the world in three different forms. In Lydia (now Turkey) lumps of electrum (a natural mixture of gold and silver) were stamped with a single punch affirming its weight and purity. From this simple beginning came the coins we use today, a piece of metal of a standard weight tamped with an official mark. At approximately the same time coinage developed in the Indus Valley (now Pakistan), consisting of bars of silver of a standard weight stamped with multiple punches. This form of currency continued to be used in much of India until the "western" style of coins were introduced by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. In China coins evolved from barter implements sometime between the eighth and seventh centuries BC. The earliest coins took the form of familiar trade implements, the spade and the knife, yet lacked their functionality. The Chinese coins were made from Bronze. It is fascinating that these three separate economies developed the need for coins at approximately the same time, yet took separate paths to meet the needs.
Back to Joel Anderson Home Page
This article may be reproduced as long as credit is given to the author and a reference is made to the www.joelscoins.com web site.