Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by PeteB, Jan 21, 2021.
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Jan. 20 (UPI) -- New research suggests groups of farmers living in Central Europe were exchanging standardized money -- in the form of bronze rings and ribs -- during the early Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago.
According to the latest archaeological analysis, described Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, the use of standardized money in Central Europe may have developed independently from money systems that emerged in the Far East and Mediterranean.
Kuijpers and Leiden colleague Catalin Popa used a psychology principle called the Weber fraction to analyze more than 5,000 bronze objects.
"We went back to this data, added a lot more and -- importantly -- developed a novel method to calculate standardization from the perspective that people in the past were not weighing with the use of scales, but with their hands," Kuijpers said.
The Weber fraction describes differences in weight that are imperceptible to human hands - when two objects are similar enough in weight, they feel the same in a person's hands.
Researchers determined 70 percent of the bronze rings were within the Weber fraction. Smaller but significant portions of the ribs and axes also fell within the Weber fraction.
According to Kuijpers and Popa, their analysis confirms the bronze objects as convertible money, used to facilitate fair exchanges between local economies and agricultural societies.
The article has a photo of the ribs, but they really should have pictured the rings instead.
Here are the rings
Rings (Osenringen) [Credit: M.H.G. Kuijpers]
They found that even though the objects' weights varied, around 70% of the rings were similar enough to have been indistinguishable by hand (averaging about 195 grams), as were subsets of the ribs and axe blade
The authors suggest that this consistent similarity in shape and weight, along with the fact that these objects often occurred in hoards, are signs of their use as an early form of standardized currency. Later, in the Middle Bronze Age of Europe, more precise weighing tools appear in the archaeological record along with an increase in scrap bronze, pointing to a developed system of weighing.
The authors add: "The euros of Prehistory came in the form of bronze rings, ribs and axes. These Early Bronze Age artefacts were standardized in shape and weight and used as an early form of money."
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