|From China to Africa to Central America, our ancestors also
used symbolic tools, like daggers, and representations of valuable objects
for use as money.
The ancient Egyptians didn't have coins as we know them, but they did use fragments of metal as a form of money, believes Dr Eagleton. "They appear to have standard weights, and there are written records of weights of silver and copper being used as payments."
About 650BC, some of the earliest known coins were made in Lydia, a region in what is know Turkey.
It was only in the 13th century that European coins came to be made from gold - once routes were opened up through Morocco from West Africa. "In the late medieval period," says Dr Eagleton, "English coinage was all made of African gold." And with the opening up of the sea routes and increased trade between Indian, African and Chinese merchants, money started to move between countries. "You get things like an Austrian coin becoming standard currency in Africa because it's a standard way to exchange thing."
Why were the first coins made?
Basically, to make life easier. "Before the advent of money, we trade by exchange and barter… like swapping my spare rice for your spare chickens, and then later on, that gets more sophisticated if you're trying to do three or four way trade." So it was much easier to pay for something using a currency that was considered valuable by everyone, than to carry on exchanging goods.