The ancient coins have been a means of monetary exchange as also a medium of artistic expression. It is a little difficult to trace the history of coins in a chronological order as coins from all eras are not readily available for documentation, which comes as a hindrance in marking the stages of development of coins. The early civilizations used various metal alloys as currency in order to help the exchange of several consumer goods, products and weapons etc. The fascinating history of coins also sheds light on the minting of coins of different, sizes, shapes and different metals. Read on find a detailed account on the history of coins.
Interesting And Amazing Information On The Origin And Background Of Coins
The history of coins encompasses economic history of several generations, the history of minting technologies and the history of coin collecting. The Western history of coins is rooted in their invention, somewhere before or after the 700 B.C., in Aegina Island or Ephesus Lydia 650 B.C. It is believed that the first coins were made of a naturally occurring pale-yellowish mix of gold and silver, further alloyed with silver and copper. This mixture was called electrum. The archaic coins mostly depict a symbol of the city or the existing ruler of that era on the observing side, and a crude punch mark on the reverse side.
The Greek and Roman coins are the most widely collected archaic coins. The history of coins in Greece is closely connected to the coinage system in Lydia, when the Lydian king Croesus (561-546 B.C.) introduced coins made of pure silver and gold. Soon, the coinage system spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. The Greek city states were the first ones to create coins of great artistic value by asking the finest engravers available to make Greek coins. Occasionally, a master engraver also signed the coins. Idealism being of supreme importance to Greek art, the Greek dies depicted the deities of Greek pantheon as ideally proportioned humans.
The concept of coinage was spread in a good part of the world by Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.). The Hellenistic empires founded by the generals and successors of Alexander were introduced to coins that carried realistic portraits on them. In fact, many Hellenistic rulers are mostly unknown except for their coin portraits, which were recorded for posterity. The Byzantine Empire (Roman Empire during the middle ages) continued the Hellenistic tradition and used very thin gold coins, depicting the image of the Christian cross and several Byzantine emperors, as their currency. Roman coins also served as a potent means of political propaganda with the reverse side of the coin eulogizing the virtues of the emperor.
Important political events, such as the assassination of Julius Caesar, were recorded on the Roman coins. With the beginning of the medieval age marked by the rise of the Byzantine Empire in the East, with the age of Constantine the Great (307-337 A.D.), the Christian church assumed great significance and became a potent political force. This was the time that the Byzantine coins began to depict images related to Christianity and God. The coinage of this era represented the Christ, the Virgin, and various saints. Also, political events were still depicted on coins.
Coins of the Biblical world represented the Judeo-Christian religions. The ancient Judean coinage was introduced during the Persian period and continued by the Hashmoneans. During the period that covered two Jewish revolts against Rome, the coins used to be struck extensively, including important silver coins. The Romans also struck their coins to celebrate the subjugation of Judea. Many of the ancient coins are still available and it is possible to purchase and own these archaic coins at inexpensive costs. For instance, the standard Byzantine Empire gold coins can be acquired at an initial price of $350.