Money is one of the most timeless, all-pervading, and arbitrary inventions in human history. Its ubiquity in time and space offers great scope for comparative archaeological research into its varying material manifestations. This article takes a broad approach, ranging from Old World prehistory to twentieth-century ethnography. First, the development of archaeological approaches to coinage and money is outlined. Subsequent sections explore research into the use of objects as currencies in prehistory; the origins of coined money; archaeological sites illustrating the adoption and functions of coinage in and around the classical Mediterranean; and the study of coins as archaeological artifacts in the more recent past and in non-European contexts. Finally, we suggest some potential ways forward, employing comparative archaeological study to enhance our understanding of the complexity of functions performed by monetary objects, both in the past and in the present.

Keyword(s): coincontextcurrencyvalue

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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