The history of coins provides a fascinating insight into the social development of ancient civilizations. While today we barely notice the coins we use, the symbols, value and make of these coins reveal a lot about our time. When people look at our civilization thousands of years from now, coins will tell them what was important to us. The fact that we may be the last civilization to use coins at all means that it is particularly remarkable. The only thing more remarkable than the last civilization is the first one!
The first coins in the world showed up around 600 BC. A civilization called the Lydians were the proud owners and lived in modern-day Turkey. These coins featured the head of a lion and were made of a mixture of silver and gold known as electrum.
This was not where the idea of money originated. Money had been around in some shape or form for thousands of years when the Chinese first start using shells as a currency. On the other side of the world, the Mesopotamians were also creating currency to purchase grains and livestock.
Coins changed everything. This allowed people to travel to unknown places and be able to show their wealth and status. It allowed trade to expand beyond communities and could be seen as the first step towards globalization. From here coins spread around ancient Greece and soon other civilizations were adopting their own version. At this time there were too many currencies being traded that it made it difficult to openly trade. However, the fact that each coin had intrinsic value (the gold or silver used) meant it was just a small kink that needed to be ironed out.
Once it was worked out and civilizations developed,e modern currencies stepped in. Today we still have incredible developments taking place as the entire continent of Europe opted for one currency in 1999. The future of coins will likely be short-lived as they increasingly move to a digital era. Yet their impact on the advancement of civilization can not be undersold.