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Money History

For hundreds of thousands of years, human civilizations
tended to barter for goods, trading shells and precious
stones for food and other important commodities. For
the first evidence of money as currency, we need to go
back 5,000 years to where modern-day Iraq now sits, to
find ‘the shekel’. Though this was the first form of
currency, it was not money as we know and understand
it today. It actually represented a certain weight of
barley, a kind of plant, equivalent to gold or silver.
Eventually, the shekel became a coin currency in its
own right. In much the same way, Britain’s currency is
called ‘the pound’, because it was originally equivalent
to a pound of silver. The ancient Greeks and Romans
used gold and silver coins as currency, with the Latin
‘denarius’ ultimately giving birth to ‘dinar’ in various
countries including Jordan and Algeria, and providing
the ‘d’ that served as an abbreviation for the British
penny before decimalization in 1971. It also gives us the
word for money in Spanish and Portuguese – ‘dinero’
and ‘dinhero’. The first ever banknotes were issued in
7th-century China, though it took another 1,000 years
before the idea of paper money was adopted in Europe,
by Sweden’s Stockholms Banco in 1661

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