From 'value ascription' to coinage: a sketch of monetary developments in Western Eurasia from the Stone to the Iron Age
Rahmstorf, Lorenz Haselgrove, C. ; Krmnicek, S. (Eds.)
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15769
First published (peer reviewed)
Leister Archaeology Monograph; 24
Leicester Archaeology Monographs, School of Archaeology & Ancient History, University of Leicester, 2016
Surely, ‘money is one of the most timeless, all-pervading, and arbitrary inventionsin human history’ (Haselgrove and Krmnicek 2012, 235), yet it is possible to differentiate three different stages of monetary use and the estimation of value. Exchange is considered as the key to assessing the precise value of commodities. Hence it is of primary importance to understand how exchange was conducted. During the first stage, which began at an uncertain date within the Stone Age, various substances were considered as valuables and could have functioned as some form of currency, yet their range was limited by many factors, not least by social constraints. This was still very much the case during the Copper Age, even if metals now offered new and fantastic possibilities for defining value and creating money. On present evidence it cannot be established whether objects standardised by size (aes formatum) existed on a large scale at this period. A relationship between value and mass was apparently not yet established. Only in the Bronze Age did the invention of weights and scales enable such a nexus, marking the second stage. This step created a highly precise medium for exchange, as a method of payment and a standard of value. Metal was clearly now a currency. These innovations were more revolutionary than the appearance of coins in the Iron Age, the threshold of the third stage of fundamental monetary developments.
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