COINED GOLD IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
GOLD COINS: ECONOMIC, TECHNICAL AND SYMBOLIC ASPECTS
by Claudia Perassi

Gold - used by weight as a measure of value since 2000 B.C. in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations - was coined for the first time in Western Anatolia. During an initial stage - variously dated by scholars on the last third of the 7th century B.C. or at the start of the following century - the yellow metal was alloyed with silver. It's during the reign of Croesus - who was King of Lydia between 560-545 B.C. - that the first coins of pure gold were minted.

Beginning in the second half of the 6th century - with periods of more or less frequent usage - gold denominations became part of the monetary systems of the Persian Empire, the poleis of mainland Greece and Magna Graecia, Sicily, the Etruscans, the Hellenic kingdoms, Carthage, the Celtic world, Republican and Imperial Rome, the Romano-Barbarian kingdoms, and the Byzantine Empire.

An ancient gold coins has intrinsic value, that is to say its worth equals that of the quantity of metal used to mint it. For this reason gold is always coined at a very high level of fineness. On the other hand, the ratio between gold and silver, the other precious metal, varied throughout history (1:10, 1:13, 1:15).


Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them


Populonia
Populonia
Cartagine
Cartagine
Atrebates
Atrebates
Impero bizantino
Impero bizantino
© 2008 UCSC Milano