Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver,with trace amounts of copper and other metals. It has also been produced artificially, and is often known as green gold. The ancient Greeks called it 'gold' or 'white gold', as opposed to 'refined gold'. Its colour ranges from pale to bright yellow, depending on the proportions of gold and silver.
An alloy is a combination of metals or a combination of one or more metals with non-metallic elements. For example, combining the metallic elements gold and copper produces red gold, gold and silver becomes white gold, and silver combined with copper produces sterling silver. Elemental iron, combined with non-metallic carbon or silicon, produces alloys called steel or silicon steel. The resulting mixture forms a substance with properties that often differ from those of the pure metals, such as increased strength or hardness. Unlike other substances that may contain metallic bases but do not behave as metals, such as aluminium oxide (sapphire), beryllium aluminium silicate (emerald) or sodium chloride (salt), an alloy will retain all the properties of a metal in the resulting material, such as electrical conductivity, ductility, opaqueness, and luster. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, from the steel alloys, used in everything from buildings to automobiles to surgical tools, to exotic titanium-alloys used in the aerospace industry, to beryllium-copper alloys for non-sparking tools. In some cases, a combination of metals may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. In other cases, the combination of metals imparts synergistic properties to the constituent metal elements such as corrosion resistance or mechanical strength. Examples of alloys are steel, solder, brass, pewter, duralumin, bronze and amalgams.
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver and also naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium.
Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.
The gold content of naturally occurring electrum in modern Western Anatolia ranges from 70% to 90%, in contrast to the 45–55% of gold in electrum used in ancient Lydian coinage of the same geographical area. This suggests that one reason for the invention of coinage in that area was to increase the profits from seigniorage by issuing currency with a lower gold content than the commonly circulating metal. (See also debasement.)
Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is the westernmost protrusion of Asia, which makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland.
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian. Its capital was Sardis.
Seigniorage, also spelled seignorage or seigneurage, is the difference between the value of money and the cost to produce and distribute it. The term can be applied in two ways:
Electrum was used as early as the third millennium BCE in Old Kingdom of Egypt, sometimes as an exterior coating to the pyramidions atop ancient Egyptian pyramids and obelisks. It was also used in the making of ancient drinking vessels. The first metal coins ever made were of electrum and date back to the end of the 7th century or the beginning of the 6th century BCE. For several decades, the medals awarded with the Nobel Prize have been made of gold-plated green gold.
In ancient Egyptian history, the Old Kingdom is the period spanning c. 2686–2181 BC. It is also known as the "Age of the Pyramids" or the "Age of the Pyramid Builders", as it encompasses the reigns of the great pyramid builders of the Fourth Dynasty— among them King Sneferu, who perfected the art of pyramid-building, and the kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who constructed the pyramids at Giza. Egypt attained its first sustained peak of civilization during the Old Kingdom—the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley.
A pyramidion is the uppermost piece or capstone of an Egyptian pyramid or obelisk, in archaeological parlance. Speakers of the Ancient Egyptian language referred to pyramidia as benbenet and associated the pyramid as a whole with the sacred benben stone. During Egypt's Old Kingdom, pyramidia were generally made of diorite, granite, or fine limestone, then covered in gold or electrum; during the Middle Kingdom and through the end of the pyramid-building era, they were built from granite. A pyramidion was "covered in gold leaf to reflect the rays of the sun"; during Egypt's Middle Kingdom pyramidia were often "inscribed with royal titles and religious symbols".
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.
The name "electrum" is the Latinized form of the Greek word ἤλεκτρον (èlektron), mentioned in the Odyssey referring to a metallic substance consisting of gold alloyed with silver. The same word was also used for the substance amber, likely because of the pale yellow colour of certain varieties.It is from amber's electrostatic properties that the modern English words "electron" and "electricity" are derived. Electrum was often referred to as "white gold" in ancient times, but could be more accurately described as "pale gold", as it is usually pale yellow or yellowish-white in colour. The modern use of the term white gold usually concerns gold alloyed with any one or a combination of nickel, silver, platinum and palladium to produce a silver-coloured gold.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other Homeric epic. The Odyssey is fundamental to the modern Western canon; it is the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, while the Iliad is the oldest. Scholars believe the Odyssey was composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.
Electrum consists primarily of gold and silver but is sometimes found with traces of platinum, copper, and other metals. The name is mostly applied informally to compositions between about 20–80% gold and 20–80% silver atoms, but these are strictly called gold or silver depending on the dominant element. Analysis of the composition of electrum in ancient Greek coinage dating from about 600 BCE shows that the gold content was about 55.5% in the coinage issued by Phocaea. In the early classical period, the gold content of electrum ranged from 46% in Phokaia to 43% in Mytilene. In later coinage from these areas, dating to 326 BCE, the gold content averaged 40% to 41%. In the Hellenistic period, electrum coins with a regularly decreasing proportion of gold were issued by the Carthaginians. In the later Eastern Roman Empire controlled from Constantinople, the purity of the gold coinage was reduced, and an alloy that can be called electrum began to be used.
Phocaea or Phokaia was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Greek colonists from Phocaea founded the colony of Massalia in 600 BC, Emporion in 575 BC and Elea in 540 BC.
Mytilene is a city founded in the 11th century BC. Mytilene is the capital city and port of the island of Lesbos and also the capital of the North Aegean Region. The seat of the governor of the North Aegean Region is Mytilene. Mytilene is also one of 13 municipalities (counties) on the island of Lesbos. Mytilene is built on the southeast edge of the island. It is also the seat of a metropolitan bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the subsequent conquest of Ptolemaic Egypt the following year. The Ancient Greek word Hellas is the original word for Greece, from which the word Hellenistic was derived.
Electrum is mentioned in an account of an expedition sent by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. It is also discussed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia . Electrum is also mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, whose prophet Ezekiel is said to have had a vision of Jehovah on a celestial chariot (Ezekiel 1:4).
Sahure was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the second ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, who reigned for about 12 years in the early 25th century BC. Sahure is considered to be one of the most important kings of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, his reign being a political and cultural high point of the Fifth Dynasty. He was probably the son of his predecessor Userkaf with queen Neferhetepes II, and was in turn succeeded by his son Neferirkare Kakai.
The Fifth Dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and VI under the group title the Old Kingdom. The Fifth Dynasty pharaohs reigned for approximately 150 years, from the early 25th century BC until the mid 24th century BC.
Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, a naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and a friend of emperor Vespasian.
The earliest known electrum coins, Lydian and East Greek coins found under the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, are currently dated to the last quarter of the 7th century BCE (625-600 BCE).Electrum is believed to have been used in coins c.600 BCE in Lydia during the reign of Alyattes.
Electrum was much better for coinage than gold, mostly because it was harder and more durable, but also because techniques for refining gold were not widespread at the time. The discrepancy between gold content of electrum from modern Western Anatolia (70–90%) and ancient Lydian coinage (45–55%) suggests that the Lydians had already solved the refining technology for silver and were adding refined silver to the local native electrum some decades before introducing the pure silver coins cited below.
In Lydia, electrum was minted into coins weighing 4.7 grams (0.17 oz), each valued at 1/3 stater (meaning "standard"). Three of these coins—with a weight of about 14.1 grams (0.50 oz)—totaled one stater, about one month's pay for a soldier. To complement the stater, fractions were made: the trite (third), the hekte (sixth), and so forth, including 1/24 of a stater, and even down to 1/48 and 1/96 of a stater. The 1/96 stater was only about 0.14 grams (0.0049 oz) to 0.15 grams (0.0053 oz). Larger denominations, such as a one stater coin, were minted as well.
Because of variation in the composition of electrum, it was difficult to determine the exact worth of each coin. Widespread trading was hampered by this problem, as the intrinsic value of each electrum coin could not be easily determined.
These difficulties were eliminated circa 570 BCE when the Croeseids, coins of pure gold and silver were introduced. gram stater was worth as much as ten 14.1 gram silver pieces.However, electrum currency remained common until approximately 350 BCE. The simplest reason for this was that, because of the gold content, one 14.1
Alyattes, sometimes described as Alyattes I, was the fourth king of the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia, the son of Sadyattes and grandson of Ardys. He was succeeded by his son Croesus. A battle between his forces and those of Cyaxares, king of Media, was interrupted by the solar eclipse of 28 May 584 BC. After this, a truce was agreed and Alyattes married his daughter Aryenis to Astyages, the son of Cyaxares. The alliance preserved Lydia for another generation, during which it enjoyed its most brilliant period. Alyattes continued to wage a war against Miletus for many years but eventually he heeded the Delphic Oracle and rebuilt a temple, dedicated to Athena, which his soldiers had destroyed. He then made peace with Miletus.
A coin is a small, flat, round piece of metal or plastic used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a government. Coins often have images, numerals, or text on them.
Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart, near the Salihli in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a Seleucid Satrap, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times. As one of the seven churches of Asia, it was addressed by John, the author of the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, in terms which seem to imply that its church members did not finish what they started, that they were about image and not substance. Its importance was due first to its military strength, secondly to its situation on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus.
Croesus was the king of Lydia who, according to Herodotus, reigned for 14 years: from 560 BC until his defeat by the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 546 BC.
Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, silver, bronze, orichalcum and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Republic, during the third century BC, well into Imperial times, Roman currency saw many changes in form, denomination, and composition. A persistent feature was the inflationary debasement and replacement of coins over the centuries. Notable examples of this followed the reforms of Diocletian. This trend continued into Byzantine times.
Bimetallism is a monetary standard in which the value of the monetary unit is defined as equivalent to certain quantities of two metals, typically gold and silver, creating a fixed rate of exchange between them.
Orichalcum or aurichalcum is a metal mentioned in several ancient writings, including the story of Atlantis in the Critias of Plato. Within the dialogue, Critias claims that orichalcum had been considered second only to gold in value and had been found and mined in many parts of Atlantis in ancient times, but that by Critias' own time orichalcum was known only by name.
The history of coins extends from ancient times to the present, and is related to economic history, the history of minting technologies, the history shown by the images on coins, and the history of coin collecting. Coins are still widely used for monetary and other purposes.
The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided into four periods, the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world during the 7th century BC until the Persian Wars in about 480 BC. The Classical period then began, and lasted until the conquests of Alexander the Great in about 330 BC, which began the Hellenistic period, extending until the Roman absorption of the Greek world in the 1st century BC. The Greek cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule. The coins produced during this period are called Roman provincial coins or Greek Imperial Coins.
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins that can be used as currency.
Pactolus, now named Sart Çayı, is a river near the Aegean coast of Turkey. The river rises from Mount Tmolus, flows through the ruins of the ancient city of Sardis, and empties into the Gediz River, the ancient Hermus. The Pactolus once contained electrum that was the basis of the economy of the ancient state of Lydia which used the naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver to forge the first coins under Alyattes of Lydia.
The stater was an ancient coin used in various regions of Greece. The term is also used for similar coins, imitating Greek staters, minted elsewhere in ancient Europe.
The earliest coinage of Asia is also the oldest coinage of the world. Coins were invented several times independently of each other. The earliest coins from the Mediterranean region are from the kingdom of Lydia, and are now dated ca. 600 BCE. The dating of the earliest coins of China and India is difficult and the subject of debate. Nevertheless, the first coins of China are at least as old as the earliest Lydian coins and possibly older, while the earliest coins of India seems to have appeared at a later stage.
Silver coins are possibly the oldest mass-produced form of coinage. Silver has been used as a coinage metal since the times of the Greeks; their silver drachmas were popular trade coins. The ancient Persians used silver coins between 612-330 BC. Before 1797, British pennies were made of silver.
Coins of the Achaemenid Empire were issued from 520 BCE-450 BCE to 330 BCE. The Persian daric was the first gold coin which, along with a similar silver coin, the siglos, represented the bimetallic monetary standard of the Achaemenid Persian Empire which has continued till today. It seems that before then, a continuation of Lydian coinage under Persian rule was highly likely. Achaemenid coinage includes the official imperial issues, as well as coins issued by the Achaemenid governors (Satraps), such as those stationed in ancient Asia Minor.
The coinage metals comprise, at a minimum, those metallic chemical elements which have historically been used as components in alloys used to mint coins. The term is not perfectly defined, however, since a number of metals have been used to make "demonstration coins" which have never been used to make monetized coins for any nation-state, but could be. Some of these elements would make excellent coins in theory, but their status as coin metals is not clear. In general, because of problems caused when coin metals are intrinsically valuable as commodities, there has been a trend in the 21st century toward use of coinage metals of only the least exotic and expensive types.
By the 10th-century, Java had one of the most complex economies in Southeast Asia. Despite the importance of rice farming which acts as the chief tax income for the Javanese courts, the influx of sea trade in Asia between the 10th and 13th centuries forced a more convenient currency to the Javanese economy. During the late 8th-century, ingots made of gold and silver were introduced. These are the early Nusantara coins.
Hermodike II has been attributed with inventing Greek coinage, i.e. the transfer of earlier technical knowledge from Lydia into ancient Greek society through Aeolis by Aristotle. Other historians have translated the name as Hermodice, Damodice or Demodike as translated by Pollux.
The Croeseid, anciently Kroiseioi stateres, was a type of coin, either in gold or silver, which was minted in Sardis by the king of Lydia Croesus from around 550 BCE. Croesus is credited with issuing the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation, and the world's first bimetallic monetary system.
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