BusinessWhen was money invented and at what point did the dollar become...

    When was money invented and at what point did the dollar become the main currency in the world?

    The history of money is exciting. For thousands of years it has not only served as a means of payment and a deposit of wealth.

    It has also been a unit of account, that is, a system that allows us to set prices and register debts.

    The origin of money is as controversial as its definition. Archaeologists, historians, philosophers and economists have their own theories about the mysterious leap that humans took when we developed the first commercial systems born after barter.

    We can find the origin of money in the transactions that thousands of years ago they were made with cereals, grams of silver, clay objects, sea shells or cocoa beans, until reaching the metal coins officially minted by kings in ancient Iraq.

    Much later, the first paper banknotes emerged in China, created when coins were so heavy that carrying them was a nightmare.

    And recently, barely 70 years ago, in secret political negotiations until late at night in a hotel lost in the middle of some mountains, a green bill called the dollar came to be the most powerful currency in the world.

    At BBC Mundo we tell you the story of the birth and evolution of money, an essential key to understanding how the commercial transactions that have marked the development of humanity have changed over the years.

    If we think of money as something material that allows us to carry out transactions, some experts argue that its origin can be found in grams of silver or barley, a cereal with which the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) traded about 5,000 years ago.

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    Those products that, on the one hand, had a value in themselves, also served as a unit of measurement and were used to quantify the value of other things through their weight, such as the value of a slave, of work , interest on a debt and even promises to pay.

    Some workers were paid in fixed amounts from things like beer or furniture, says Jon Taylor, curator of the cuneiform and cylinder seal collections in the British Museum’s Middle East Department.

    It was also common for raw materials to have a value when compared to each other. Wool and dates, for example, could have an equivalent value in grams of silver.

    Even “merchants who did long-distance operations offered each other a kind of credit, through which they could withdraw resources in one place and return them in another, or transfer the right to resources to another person,” he adds.

    “Whether this constitutes currency or money is a debated issue.”

    It all depends on how we define the concepts. The field director of the Ur Project of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology of the University of Pennsylvania, United States, William B. Hafford, argues that money is “an attempt to quantify value”, while currency “is a physical form of money, a standardized article”.

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    From this point of view, barley and silver were forms of currency and probably the oldest type of physical money known to date.

    Now, says the expert, the root of money is in thecredit-debt transactions that existed in ancient Mesopotamia.

    Hafford has worked for years on excavations in the area where Ur, one of the most important Sumerian city-states in Mesopotamia, was located.

    These transactions were based on the fact that a person could obtain something from another, promising something in exchange in the future. Thus arises the concept of debt.

    So, that form of exchange that first arose in small communities, would later develop in larger communities, until, with the passage of time, the debt ends up being quantified when writing is inventedsays the expert.

    “We have many loan and debt tablets in ancient Mesopotamia. They usually have interests too,” he adds.

    The Code of Hammurabi, for example, establishes that the interest rate on silver is 20% and that of grain is 33%.

    Silver was the most common way the value of most things was quantified for much of Mesopotamia’s history.

    “We often find silver treasures buried under the floors for protection. These contain bits of silver cut from vases, from old beads, cast into ingots or made into spiral rings,” Hafford explains.

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    Spiral rings were the easiest way to transport the metal, sometimes even tied to the hair. A part of the spiral could be broken to weigh and pay for things.

    The typical exchange rate was 1 shekel of silver (8.4 grams) for 1 GUR of grain (about 300 liters). The grain could be ground into flour, an essential product for food.

    In some clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia, the record of debts was left. According to historian Niall Ferguson, some of these objects (smaller than the size of a hand) were themselves a promise of payment to the bearer of the tablet or a kind of purchase order.

    In some it was written that, for example, a debt of four measures of barley had to be paid to the bearer of the clay tablet, which in practice would transform that object into a type of money.

    As Eckart Frahm, a Yale University professor of Near Eastern Languages ​​and Civilizations, argues, Mesopotamian traders occasionally used more “virtual” forms of money than traditional metals.

    “The long-distance trading enterprises of 20th and 19th century BCE Assyrian traders. C., for example, documented by some 24,000 clay tablets from the city of Kanesh in central Turkey, include modern elements such as bearer checks“.

    “Payment was made to the person holding the check, which came in the form of a Kanesh tablet,” he says.

    Source: La Opinion

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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