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World's first coin

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After my bungling remark in the 'money' thread I'd like to save face by presenting a lovely example of the first coin type.


A coin made from 'electrum' (a gold & silver alloy) in Lydia; 7th Century BC. I had always thought there were earlier examples of coinage but archaeological evidence seems to support Herodotus. This nugget looking chunk of stamped metal is the first.



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Hmm, the earliest Roman coinage the Aes Rude was essentially a lump of bronze. I suppose it has been argued that this 'coin' was simply used as a replacement for goods in a transaction and that it was not an officially minted, sanctioned or form of tender with a set value.


The first stamped Roman coin was the Aes Signatum which was established roughly in the early part of the 3rd century BC, but clearly the Rude had been used as a viable option for at least a century before, if not longer. For all practical purposes the Rude was, if not a coin, a form of 'money'.


With this in mind, did Rome's eastern forebears use similar lumps of metal and/or ingots prior to the introduction of this Lydian coin shown as your sample? It would seem impossible to me that the clearly stamped form of coinage was being used without an eastern 'Aes Rude' equivelant having set some form of trading precedant?

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Though I've not come across any standard, ancient name given to them, it is clearly attested is the archaeological record (mainly shipwrecks) that Bronze Age traders used specific, standard size & shape ingots for metals.


So I agree, the concept of the 'coin' must have come about prior to the Lydians finally stamping nuggets in the 7th C.


What Herodotus (book 1, chapter 94) tells us (rather tersely): "The customs of the Lydians are like those of the Greeks, except that they make prostitutes of their female children. They were the first men whom we know who coined and used gold and silver currency; and they were the first to sell by retail."

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I just thought of something: Though rare, there are examples of Egyptian scarabs made of gold, silver & electrum that are stamped with cartouches dating from the Bronze Age.


Granted scarabs were decorative amulets and not 'currency' but it makes me wonder why it took so long for someone to use the concept employed deep into Egyptian antiquity the way the Lydians did?

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As far as I understand, the shekels & such from those days were just certain measurements of a given metal that was dictated to equal a given measure of some other good.


i.e. 1 shekel (8.333 gr) = 40 chickpeas ;)

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