By: Jasón Mallorquín
In the Beginning: Barter Barter is the exchange of resources or services for mutual advantage, and may date back to the beginning of humankind. Somewould even argue that it's not purely a human activity; plants and animals have been bartering—in symbiotic relationships—for millions of years.
In any case, barter among humans certainly pre-datesthe use of money. Today individuals, organizations, and governments still use, and often prefer, barter as a form of exchange of goods and services.
9,000—6,000 BC: Cattle Cattle, which includeanything from cows, to sheep, to camels, are the first and oldest form of money. With the advent of agriculture came the use of grain and other vegetable or plant products as a standard form of barter inmany cultures.
1,200 BC: Cowrie Shells The first use of cowries, the shell of a mollusc that was widely available in the shallow waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, was in China. Historically,many societies have used cowries as money, and even as recently as the middle of this century, cowries have been used in some parts of Africa. The cowrie is the most widely and longest used currencyin history.
1,000 BC: First Metal Money and Coins Bronze and Copper cowrie imitations were manufactured by China at the end of the Stone Age and could be considered some of the earliest forms ofmetal coins. Metal tool money, such as knife and spade monies, was also first used in China. These early metal monies developed into primitive versions of round coins. Chinese coins were made out ofbase metals, often containing holes so they could be put together like a chain.
500 BC: Modern Coinage Outside of China, the first coins developed out of lumps of silver. They soon took the familarround form of today, and were stamped with various gods and emperors to mark their authenticity. These early coins first appeared in Lydia, which is part of present-day Turkey, but the techniques...