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16 Dec 2008

World's First Money

A 640 BC one-third stater coin from Lydia.Image via Wikipedia

Do you think people still barter items today in some way especially on the Internet?


Coins weren't invented until about the 7th century B.C. Before there were coins, barter was the means of trade throughout the ancient world. But it can get to be quite tiresome if you have to barter for everything.

Perhaps as a means to facilitate small transactions, the Ancient Sumerians---the same folks who invented the wheel and writing---invented money. About 3500 B.C. they began cutting sections from cone shaped shells, and, after the sections were polished, folks carried them around their necks on strings, using the shells to pay for small items.

It was such a useful invention that Sumerian Shell Money caught on quickly---archaeological evidence suggests it circulated throughout the fertile crescent of the Mid East about 5000 years ago---when Sumerian culture was at it's zenith.

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