The oldest prototype of money discovered

Already about four thousand years ago, the inhabitants of Central Europe used a kind of money. Bronze items of standard shape and weight were used as currency: axes, rings, and “ribs”.

This conclusion was made in scientific articlepublished in PLoS ONE by archaeologists at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Archaeologists have long drawn attention to the abundance of objects of three types in European hoards of the Early Bronze Age: axes, rings and so-called ribs, which are something like an unbent ring. Axes from treasures found thousands of kilometers apart were suspiciously similar in size, shape, and mass. It’s the same with rings and ribs. Moreover, the typical ring, rib, and ax weighed almost the same.

The hypothesis suggests itself that the ancient Europeans used these items as money. Artifacts from your “wallet” could be used for their intended purpose (for example, chopping wood with an ax) or melted down and make other tools. That is, the main value of these items was in the bronze from which they were made. And to make the exchange fair, the “coins” were made the same in shape and weight.

The authors of the new study decided to test this assumption. They wondered: did these items really seem the same to their owners?

They were primarily interested in the weight of the artifacts. Of course, accurate modern scales indicate that the finds have slightly different weights. But could a Bronze Age man have noticed this difference simply by holding two objects in his hands? In doing so, scientists relied on the patterns of weight perception, well known to psychophysiologists.

Bronze rings, along with some other objects, once played the role of money.

Archaeologists investigated 5028 items: 2639 rings, 1780 “ribs” and 609 axes. They were collected from more than a hundred treasures scattered across different countries of Central Europe. The “youngest” finds were made around 1700 BC, the oldest – around 2150 BC.

It turned out that 70% of all rings appear to be “naked palm” equally heavy (their typical weight is 195 grams). Roughly the same picture is observed with axes and “ribs”. Moreover, a typical ax cannot be distinguished by weight from a typical ring and “rib”.

Thus, these objects really seemed to their owners to contain the same amount of bronze and, therefore, equal. So, they really could be used as money, the scientists concluded.

Let’s add that earlier News.Ru talked about the role of money in the Mayan civilization played cocoa beans.

Source: Вести.Ru by

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