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Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by OutsiderSubtype, Sep 30, 2020.


    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I was being waaaaaay too elliptical. All it boiled down to, as a thought experiment, was that, in any given, hypothetical historical context in which circulation of money ('demand' for it) outpaced active mintage ('supply'), at which of those two points would you start, in evaluating the economic sophistication of that context (/society)? If the population was effectively ahead of the official (minting) infrastructure, would you call that society backward, on the basis of its infrastructure, or advanced, on the basis of its behavior, independently of the infrastructure?
    There are examples all over the place, geographically and chronologically, of societies which were remarkably sophisticated, economically as well as otherwise, in the effective absence of money. The Vikings, for one, whose trade network extended across a good chunk of Eurasia, largely in the absence of a money economy in any fully realized sense of the term.
    Conversely, in a society where money was scarce, but consistently in active use as such (rather than being all over the place, as along the Central Asian and Russian trade routes, but used merely as bullion), I might consider the operant population to be economically 'advanced,' above and beyond the level of its own political infrastructure --at least where minting was concerned. If you start just from those two criteria --circulation vs. mintage, especially if there isn't a seamless causal relation between the two-- which one takes precedence?
    I hope that helped, any. Sounds like you know where you'd come down....
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
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  3. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    I dunno... It's complicated. I think that one determinant for money is that it be used in calculation. Ritual exchange for social bonding precedes that and underlies it. But if you are not tallying gains and losses, you are not using money. I agree though that the Vikings apparently had a qualitative understanding of gain. They had fox pelts and amber. They wanted silks and spices. I do not know about hacksilber in the Islamic lands, but we all know that Islamic silver hoards are known all over Viking Europe. So, the Vikings did accept silver. But that is not the same thing as being monetized on it.

    I also know that during the Great Fairs of the Middle Ages, bankers would meet to reconcile their loans and borrowings and they could clear their books without ever touching a coin.

    So, I dunno.

    Do you know the works of Denise Schmandt-Besserat?
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @kaparthy, may I start by thanking you for giving the subject this much consideration?
    Sounds as if your conceptual frame of reference is more economic than cultural. From someone as left-brain-impaired as yours truly, I'm trying (with some discrete measure of success, just so far) to take that on board.
    ...Except, not only did the (effectively pre-monetary) Vikings look at all of these Samanid dirhams, etc., as bullion (hence hack-silver); there's a 13th-century stained glass window in one of the more famous French cathedrals (Rheims? Chartres? forget) which shows moneylenders weighing coins. Even as of then, the weight and composition, from one regional issue (including royal ones) to another was so volatile that --especially in the absence of Arabic numerals-- you ended up having to do this. On the ground; in real time.
    ..I'm about to wiki Denise Schmandt-Besserat. It'll be (please read, Only) a start.
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