The old ones showed preference by two metals: gold and silver. This predilection justified many factors, that send us toconditions that determined the use of the metal like guideline of value for the commercial interchange. It was necessary that the material was rare, but not too much; that enough maleable turned out in order to be able to be elaborated, but sufficiently it last to conserve certaincharacteristics without altering itself when happening of hand in hand; that one did not oxidize nor underwent other disadvantages that diminished their weight and hisvalue; and, mainly, that was recognized with facility by the weight, color and sound. These characteristics are concretely insilver and in the gold, that in a moment was chosen like best metals to coin currency. A distinction student and simplista a little attributes to the gold to the currencies of the great dynasties of monarchs and the silver, to the republicsindependent: kings of Lydia, the Aqueménidas de Persia, the empire of Alexander Magno and the diádocos – their successors producedgold currencies in great amount; poleis Greek and the Roman Republic, however, preferred to put in circulation silver pieces. Thisdistinction, although very generic, does not let really lock up a bottom. During many centuries, East preferred gold. The first currencies of this metal we found them in Lydia, the region of inheriting Smaller Asiaof a great central empire that had taken gold, even before using the currency, like datum point for all the interchanges andvalues. In the Mesopotamia of IV the millenium BC, bloomed one of the greater and older civilizations, the one of the sumerios. Mesopotamiacountry between rivers, Tigris and the Euphrates, today distributed between Iran and lrak) was in an exceptionally lucky position, as muchby the fertility of the land like by its condition of crossroads of caravans of merchants, that allowed him to control the traffic fromthe Aegean Sea to the Persian gulf. In this civilization it was born and the writing spread (towards 3200 year BC), indeed by the necessity of, to mark, and to differentiate the numerous merchandize from the diverse craftsmen and farmers who took their products to the great cities stopto interchange them. The population was organized in cities temple, in whose interior the sacerdotal class represented, in addition to the religious authority, to be able economic and political. In a so complex and organized civilization it penetrated the semítico element after the invasion of towns thatsumerios did not know to contain (its great weakness had to the absence of political and military unit). Between the diverse kingdoms formed inthis period, the one of Babylonia acquired preeminent importance, and gave name to all the mesopotámica civilization during several centuries(approximately of years 2000 to 562 BC), although in this region several towns followed one another and alternated, among them hititas and asirios.
the banks – babylonian temples
We have talked about to the babylonian cities like cities temple, to emphasize the importance that this place of cult had in the sineof the civilization that we commented. Around III the millenium BC arose and they spread zigurats, towers that rose in terracesdecreasing, with a temple in the peak and outer stairs of access (the tower of Biblical Babel is most famous). Although with the passage of time the monarchy was holding fast more and more, the sacerdotal class continued occupying a position of the great prestigeand enjoying enormous privileges: besides to control the instruction and the culture, also she was depositaria of the economic power. Intemples were accumulated, in effect, fabulous wealth originating partly of the offerings of the faithfuls and partly of the yield ofterritories and of the manufactures that belonged to the divinity. The gold along with stored in the sacred places the stone samplesthat they served as units of weight, generally zoomorfas, that is in animal form: in Babylonia they had duck figure; in Egypt, probably in memory of the use of the cattle in the first interchanges, their aspect era of ox head. The temples thus became official places of verification of weights and measures, besides to be destined to
Systems of weights and measures
Even being the mesopotámicos towns very advanced and organized, they had not gotten to use the currency. The system was used to relatethe merchandize, in the transactions, with a product pattern, that not only was the gold and the silver, but also the barley. Indeed in thisproduct is based the metric system of the Babylonians, called sexagesimai because it rested in 60 number and its manifold andsubmultiples. A total of 180 grains of barley constituted the sicio (8 grams), and 60 sicios formed the mine (half kilo). In the vertex ofsystem was the talent, that it came near to the 30 kilos. This system was used in all East during many centuries, and it spreadalso in Greece until the introduction of the decimal system, more practitioner and based on the ten fingers. One always was exclusivelyponderal parameter, and never became currency. Also the gold and the silver, at this first moment, were used according to a proportion of weight: gold 1, silver 13. 5, according to the relation between yearto pave and lunar month. We know the great value that had the astrology, astronomy and the mathematical one for the babylonian society, andimportance of these disciplines got to condition the metric systems. After the 1200 BC, the political panorama of Smaller Asia underwent remarkable and fundamental transformations: throughout the coasts one beganthe first Greek colonization, in the interior was born several independent kingdoms, like the one of the frigios, and later (centuries VII-VI BC)kingdom of Lydia, with capital in Sardes. In this kingdom, heir of the great mesopotámica culture, the dynasty of the Mermnadas emitted pieces ofmetal, already heavy and assayed, guaranteed by the real symbol: the lion head that we found in the first electron currencies. !>
the Persian currencies of
The bimetallic system, based on a fixed relation between gold and silver, was adopted by the Persians when, in the century I BC, conqueredIt fights, all the Greek Anatolia, cities of the coast and Babylonia (539 year BC). With Darío 1 (years 522-486 BC), the empire reached oneenormous extension: it included/understood the Egypt Stop, the Asian plains until lndo, the Caucasus and the desiedo of Arabia, covering about 7. 000. 000kM2. Its work of organization was important, because it tried to conciliate a strong central control with the local traditions. The monetary circulation inside the empire took place in dáricos (of the name of Darío) of gold and in sicios of silver. And others, for the first time in the history of the numismatist, they represented in the obverse a armed human figure with arc and sends: the picture of the Great oneKing, with the uniform of the arqueros of its guard. In these currencies they coexist of way significant and modern the concept to be able regal, that it legitimizes the piece, and the distinguishing characteristic of Darío and the kings who followed one another in the dynasty of the Aqueménidas: its paper ofthe great military and conquerors. The dáricos of gold weighed 8. 5 grams, and the sicio of silver maintained with gold a relation of 1:1 3 and 1/3; therefore, a dárico correspondedto 1 1 2 grams of silver. This criterion was based on the postulate of which between gold and silver there was a always fixed relation. Even inarchaic commercial system like the Persian, was not possible to maintain this proportion without falsear the rules of the market immutable. Then (liketoday) this relation varied of independent way for reasons of speculation, tesaurización or production.
A long and fatigoso trip
As a example of how the transactions were carried out comerciajes in the mesopotámico world, we describe the interchanges brieflywith Kanis, one of the most important colonies you would take root in Anatolia between 1900 and 1800 BC This commercial center distaba more than 800 km ofmetropolis and was in a very inaccessible region, to which caravans of asses only could accede. In the favorable station (inwinter the contacts were interrupted), left from the capital great amounts of extracted lead and tin of the mines you would take root, fabrics anddamascos. To the arrival of the merchandize, after the length and difficult route, they had multiplied his price: the metals cost the double thatto the game, and weaves, the triple. Naturally, the trip was very expensive, but it was worth the trouble to undertake it because the benefits very were elevated. In addition, the retailersthey were able to reduce expenses saving in the wage of the conductors of asses. Also the sale of these last ones in the destiny placeit constituted a source of remarkable gains. For the transport of obtained gold and the silver of the sales, post office were used, also veryused for the correspondence.