Category Archives: DrachmasDubloonsDollars

African Money

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage Although the rulers of the great Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum, which flourished between AD 270 and 630, produced their own round coinage to facilitate trade with the Roman and Byzantine Empires, many regions of Africa less closely linked to the Mediterranean world and its concepts of money developed…
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Early America

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage   North America's first European settlers often traded by barter, using corn, tobacco, and other goods as currency. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coins were often hard to come by in the British colonies, and royal authority was generally inattentive to the economic needs of its North…
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The Enlightenment: The 18th Century

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage   The 18th century was an age of frequent and costly warfare between the states of Europe and, in the case of Great Britain, between mother country and colony. The immense expense of fighting against the American Revolution and, later, against Napoleon created such a shortage of precious…
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Europe in Transformation: The 17th Century

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage By the early 1600s, the rich mines of Potosí, Bolivia, had reached their highest output and began to slowly decline. In addition, inflation and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) reduced the production of smaller silver coins. As a result, copper coins became more common. The kings of Sweden…
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New Sources: The 15th and 16th Centuries

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage   The 15th and 16th centuries are probably best known for a renewed interest in the Greek and Roman past and the artistic genius of individuals like Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Dürer. Developments in the high arts were also reflected in the coinage, which now took the skillfully…
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Ancient and Medieval East and South Asia

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage East Asian coins are noticeably different from Western coins and evolved separately from the Greco-Roman tradition. China and India both created independent coinages and weight standards at about the same time that the Lydians were creating the first coins of the Mediterranean world. India's native silver bars were…
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The Medieval West

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage   Throughout early Medieval Europe, coins were not as important as they had been during the Roman period. The Germanic people, who had conquered the western part of the Roman Empire, valued coins primarily by their bullion value. Coin production was low, and barter was a common form…
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Medieval Byzantine and Islamic Empires

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage   The Byzantine emperors in Constantinople struck a gold coin called a solidus, which was the most important trade coin of the early Middle Ages. Under the banner of Islam, proclaimed by Muhammad (571-632), the Arabs conquered Byzantine Syria and Egypt and the Sasanian Empire under the first…
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Ancient Rome

Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage The Romans established a highly centralized system of currency, which became the model for many later states. The first Roman currency consisted of heavy bronze bars, which were used to pay taxes or fines until as late as the 4th century BC. Contact with the Greek colonies of…
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Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean World

Exhibitions Home Return to Drachmas, Dubloons, and Dollars homepage The first coins were struck in 7th-century Lydia in Western Turkey. The new coins offered a convenient way to pay with pre-weighed pieces of metal, which were guaranteed by an authority. For centuries before this, people had been using cut-up silver bullion to conduct transactions, a…
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