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The world's first coins

Coinage - in the form of small metal discs, ingots or replicas of metal tools marked with information about their value or origin - first appeared in Asia Minor, India, and China during the 1st millennium BC.


AthenaFrom these areas originated the three major monetary traditions (Greek, Indian, and Chinese) that influence our modern ideas of how money should look and how it should be used. 

Coinage was invented in the ancient kingdom of Lydia during the 7th century BC, in what is today central Turkey.  The idea was quickly adopted by the Greeks and soon nearly every Greek city and colony from southern France to the northern shores of the Black Sea began to produce their own coins.

The Romans adopted coinage from the Greeks during the 3rd century BC and developed the first fully monetized society. Money was used in the daily transactions of the majority of Romans, creating a huge demand for coins. 

The Romans took advantage of this demand and became masters at using coins as propaganda.  They developed a "language" of abbreviations and symbols on coinage that is still used today.