Money

What's your artifact doing in Boss Kean's ditch?
Witness
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Money

Post by Witness »

When was money invented? A new study has the answer

The invention of currency might pose one of humanity's oldest questions: When was it invented and who was the creator? Archaeologists curious about this ancient query have struggled to pinpoint the exact moment of money's inception. Until now.

A research team based in the Netherlands has uncovered a point in Early Bronze Age history that may have been the beginning of currency as we know it. They used a new method for detecting evidence of standardized weights and measures — the telltale signs of emergent currency. Civilizations some 5,000-4,000 years ago (3,000-2,100 BC) used the weight of these objects to measure and use them as money.

The researchers found that up to 70 percent of certain bronze objects were indistinguishably the same weight, implying they were created to be interchangeable. There were objects shaped like rings, objects shaped like ax blades, and objects shaped like ribs. In photos, they almost look more like green beans, as oxidation has turned them a beautiful shade of emerald:

https://i.imgur.com/FQPPP6Z.jpg
Scientists called these bronze objects "ribs." These objects were used as an early form of standardized currency in Europe.
The discovery helps scientists better understand the society and emerging market systems of these ancient peoples, and how simple ax blades or bronze rings represented the first step to the trillion-dollar system of currency we have today.

Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

...

What they did — In essence, the team's measuring technique was to compare the weights of bronze artifacts and to see how close their weights are to one another. If the weight of two items is within 10 percent of each other, then the researchers classify the pair's weight as being indistinguishable from one another by human sense alone.

This measure is called the "Weber fraction." (Read more about Weber's Law if you're curious.)

If enough of these rings, ribs, and ax blades have weights within these ranges, then the researchers hypothesize that this must have been intentional rather than accidental. This is supported by the idea that rings and ribs of metal had little other purpose and that ax blades were already a prized item.

What they discovered — To see how well this relationship held up in the real world, the researchers tested it out their theory on more than 5,000 bronze pieces, including ax blades, rings, and ribs, from more than 100 different hoards in Bronze Age Europe — ranging from Germany to the Czech Republic and Scandinavia.

The most striking discovery the team made when comparing the weights of these various items was that 70.3 percent of bronze rings — which total more than 2,600 items — all fell within a weight range of 176 to 217 grams. Using the Webster fraction, the team writes that these items are then indistinguishable from 195.5 grams.

This clear relationship wasn't the case for all items, but they did likewise discover that 71.6 percent of 1,106 heavy ribs (which they grouped separately from light ribs) coming from 13 different hoards were perceptibly identical to a rib weighing 185.5 grams. While ax blades failed to meet this level of similarity, the authors write that their weight similarity was still slightly higher than chance.

...

"Though archaeologists have no insight in the transactions that took place, there can be no doubt that at least the rings and ribs conform to the definition of commodity money," write the authors.
https://www.inverse.com/science/origins-of-money
ed
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Re: Money

Post by ed »

there can be no doubt that at least the rings and ribs conform to the definition of commodity money,
No, no doubt whatsoever. :lol:

I can think of any number of formalized behavior where these things would fit in.

Of course, I won't perish if I don't publish.
Bruce
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Re: Money

Post by Bruce »

5000 BC? Pfttt.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... LHFage.jpg
This is a cave painting from 13,000 BC. You can clearly see that this is a representation of a stock market exchange. Those greedy cave man hands are exchanging sea shells as money. Proof, I tell you. I can archeology too! We all can archeology with just a tiny bit of science and a lot of speculation.
ed
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Re: Money

Post by ed »

I've known people who were in the archeology or related areas and the thing I found a bit infuriating was that they would'nt speculate, even in casual conversation.

Then this:
The most striking discovery the team made when comparing the weights of these various items was that 70.3 percent of bronze rings — which total more than 2,600 items — all fell within a weight range of 176 to 217 grams. Using the Webster fraction, the team writes that these items are then indistinguishable from 195.5 grams.
Sooooooooooo 176 is not different from 195.5 (note the decimal point) nor is 217. But 176 would be different from 217. So some number of these things are distinguishable from each other. So where does that leave us? A spurious invocation of a "standard" that is not terribly relevant.

I have a (an???) hypothesis. I think that the similarity of these items is a clear indication of assembly line mass production. The close weight of many of them shows the existence of a proto quality control function. All in all, I submit that what we have here is evidence of capitalisitc production, perhaps the earliest.
Hotarubi
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Re: Money

Post by Hotarubi »

Or an early slinky that broke.
ed
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Re: Money

Post by ed »

That too.
Witness
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Re: Money

Post by Witness »

Love your comments. More! More!


@ed: the production of the thingies being "industrialized" (not your words) doesn't preclude an usage as, say, exchange tokens. You'll have to pull out a theory out of your extremely rotund backside (as you said you have – theories, I mean) to explain roughly equivalent weights over hundreds of kilometers:

https://i.imgur.com/d2aePTC.jpg

and that for thousands of artifacts.
ed
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Re: Money

Post by ed »

Female wrist diameter for marriageable females who wore their dowry in their person
Witness
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Re: Money

Post by Witness »

ed wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:14 am Female wrist diameter for marriageable females who wore their dowry in their person
"In" their person?!? Rhooooooooooo, ed! :shock:

But meh. I'd like to know the size of these rings, first, and then that you explain the "ribs".
Bruce
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Re: Money

Post by Bruce »

I agree with ed. Just do a Google search for tribal facial piercings. You'll see plenty of examples if rings, ribs, etc. Some tribes really love to load up their faces with this stuff.
robinson
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Re: Money

Post by robinson »

If it was actual money, the weight would be almost identical. People knew how to use a fucking scale.
gnome
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Re: Money

Post by gnome »

They hadn't yet mastered the regular scales though.
Witness
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Re: Money

Post by Witness »

Some criticism:
Speaking with the Times, Nicola Ialongo, a prehistoric archaeologist at Germany’s Georg August University of Göttingen who was not involved in the study, outlines an alternative to Kuijpers and co-author Cătălin Popa’s findings. The artifacts’ similar weight, he argues, could be the result of artisans using a limited number of molds, or perhaps a mold with a standardized shape. The number of tokens, rather than the relative weight of the objects, might have been more important to Bronze Age barterers.

“Simply put, you don’t need a weight system to be able to use metals—or any other commodity—as money,” Ialongo explains.

Despite disagreeing with some of the researchers’ methods, Ialongo tells the Times that their work represents “a remarkable attempt to break one of the oldest and most persistent taboos in prehistoric archaeology, that ‘primitive’ societies do not have a proper commercial economy.”
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-ne ... 180976859/