Related Content

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • History


Show Summary Details



Quick Reference


A metal token, usually a disc, with specific weight and value, usually stamped with designs and inscriptions. The earliest known coins in the world were minted by the kingdom of Lydia in the Near East in the 7th century bc. The coins, made of electrum, were simply pieces of metal of standardized weight stamped with designs, and later inscriptions, to identify the issuing authority. It is not exactly certain how they were initially used, but it was probably for high‐level ceremonial exchange rather than everyday trade. After Cyrus the Great gained control of Lydia in the 6th century bc the Achaemenid Persians adopted a gold coinage that typically had a portrait of their king on one side and a punch mark on the other. The Greek cities of Asia Minor also copied the Lydian idea for coins in the 7th century, after which the idea spread widely throughout Greece. The first Roman coins were struck in the early 3rd century bc, initially in precious metals but by the later 3rd century in bronze as the as and the denarius in silver. The 4th‐ century bc staters of Phillip II and Alexander III of Macedon provided the prototypes for coins in Europe which developed their own sequence based on the use of Celtic art and local designs.

In the Far East, coinage developed in India in the 5th century bc through contacts with Persian/Achaemenid coinage by Mauryans and Kushans. In China shells and other small items were used as money down to the Zhou Dynasty and beyond, but from the 3rd century bc onwards round coins with a central square hole began to circulate.

Subjects: History

Reference entries

View all reference entries »