7 Fascinating Facts About the World's Oldest Coins

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1. Lydia's Lion Coins (circa 600-560 BCE) 

Considered by many to be the world's first coins, these were minted in the Kingdom of Lydia (modern-day Turkey). Made from electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver, they featured a lion's head, symbolizing the Lydian king.  

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2. Aeginetan "Turtles" (circa 700 BCE) 

These silver coins from the island of Aegina, one of the earliest coinages in Greece, bore the image of a sea turtle. The turtle was symbolic of Aegina's maritime prowess and became so widely accepted that they were used throughout the ancient Greek world. 

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3. Chinese Spade and Knife Money (circa 600-200 BCE) 

Before the familiar round coin shape became standard, early Chinese civilizations used bronze objects shaped like spades and knives as currency. These forms of money were based on actual tools and weapons, which then evolved into symbolic representations used for trade. 

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4. Persian Daric (circa 500 BCE)  

The Daric, a gold coin from the Persian Empire, featured the image of a king or warrior armed with a bow and arrow. Named after King Darius I, Darics played a crucial role in the Persian economy and are often mentioned in historical texts, including the Bible. 

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5. Indian Punch-Marked Coins (circa 6th century BCE) 

In 2008, an error in the Royal Mint resulted in the production of around 200,000 20 pence coins without a date, making them the first undated British coins in over 300 years. These coins have become highly sought after by collectors. 

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6. The Athenian Owl Tetradrachm (circa 5th century BCE) 

These silver coins, minted in Athens, are famous for their depiction of an owl on one side and the goddess Athena on the other. The owl symbolized wisdom and was a symbol of Athens.  

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7. Roman Denarius (First minted in 211 BCE) 

The Denarius was a silver coin that became the standard Roman silver coin and a staple of the Roman economy for centuries. Its introduction signified a shift towards a more unified and expansive monetary system across the Roman Empire. 

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