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Everyone Loves Money, But Where Does Money Come From?

Everyone in the world loves money. With some exceptions, most people think they don't got enough money and need to earn more. And if it is possible, they would like to earn money without having to work for it.

The purpose of money

Money is not a natural product, it is a human invention. It is one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind.

According to record of The Conversation (2017), the earliest human use of currency dates back at least 40,000 years. People were trading with each other as early as the Palaeolithic, exchanging flint tools for other people's artefacts. Money came into existence a little later, and its forms evolved from natural objects, to metal coins, to paper banknotes, and to the digital form of today. But the purposes for which money is used remain largely the same: for transactions, for payment, as a standard of value, to store wealth, as a unit of account.

For archaeologists, the study of the various types of money and currency found at the site provides insight into ancient trade and the interaction between people. In order to understand the history of mankind, the history of money cannot be ignored.

There are many theories that attempt to explain the origins of money and these arguments reflect the versatility of money. Money can be used as a mutually acceptable standard for transactions; it can facilitate cooperation between different societies; social classes can be perpetuated through money; and it is a concrete expression of political power. Some evidence suggests that money was created in response to the exchange of gifts and the repayment of debts.

Various forms of money

There are many different types of naturally occurring and rare items that have been used as currency. Many of the rarer natural materials, such as copper, gold, silver, amber and black lapis lazuli, have been used as currency; mother-of-pearl is widely used in Native American societies; coins made from cowry shells have been found in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. Live animals, such as cattle, have only recently been used as currency.

After the first century, coins made of lead, copper, silver and gold were unearthed all over the world, mainly in Europe, Asia and North Africa, marking the beginning of large-scale coinage. Ancient Rome, India and China all developed their own pre-modern commerce.

Metal money became the currency of trade due to its inherent portability, durability, ease of transport and intrinsic value. For pastoralist societies, other forms of property and money, such as dairy cattle, were indeed suitable for mutual trade, but cattle were far less easily transportable than metal and even more difficult to preserve in the event of disaster, making them less desirable than metal money.

Money flows and facilitating people-to-people exchanges

Since money invention, it has been inextricably linked to politics. The use of metal coins enabled political leaders to determine the production of metals, including the steps of mining, smelting and minting, and to control the circulation and use of money. Taxation was a purely political demonstration of power, and money could be used to support nobles, administer government units and maintain armies.

Money could also be a stabilising force in society, allowing for the peaceful exchange of goods, information and services within the same group and between different groups. In the past, as today, no society was completely self-sufficient, and money enabled societies to interact with each other. With all types of money, people could access resources they would not otherwise have, reduce risk and build alliances and friendships.

Money is the common language of all humanity and even if both parties do not speak the same language, they can still understand each other as long as they have it.

Money also enables people to exchange resources and build trade networks across a wide geographical area. The 'Maritime Silk Road trade' lasted from 700 AD to 1450, creating a vast transnational trade network around the Indian Ocean in Europe, the Middle East, Arabia, East Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia. By studying the movement of money, archaeologists are able to trace the interactions between people in ancient times.

Money was not just a local affair, but also a symbol of human connection.


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