The World's First Money

Ancient Sumerian Shell Money---Over 5,000 Years old!

When you're in the Collectibles business, things tend to accumulate. If we see something we know collectors will love---and if it's being sold well below the going rate, we tend to snap it up---even if we don't have time to offer it immediately. Buying and selling as much as we do, once in a while something slips through the cracks. That's what happened several years ago when we purchased a small lot of the very fist money in the world---Ancient Sumerian Shell Money.

We had fully intended to offer this interesting find to collectors, but, we just never got around to it. Our inventory of Sumerian Shell Money languished in storage for years. It was only brought to memory recently when we saw these ancient antiquities being offered by another company.

The Ancient Sumerians were the first to describe the rose...

Long before there were coins...

Coins weren't invented until about the 7th century B.C. Before there were coins, barter was the means of trade throughout the ancient world. But it can get to be quite tiresome if you have to barter for everything.

Perhaps as a means to facilitate small transactions, the Ancient Sumerians---the same folks who invented the wheel and writing---invented money. About 3500 B.C. they began cutting sections from cone shaped shells, and, after the sections were polished, folks carried them around their necks on strings, using the shells to pay for small items.

It was such a useful invention that Sumerian Shell Money caught on quickly---archaeological evidence suggests it circulated throughout the fertile crescent of the Mid East about 5000 years ago---when Sumerian culture was at it's zenith.

The Ancient Sumerians invented the wheel...

Buried for 5,000 years!

All through history money has been buried---either to keep it out of the hands of invaders, or because it was felt money would be required by the dead in whatever new world they had just entered. In fact, many ancient coins offered today were at one time buried.

So it should come as no surprise that the very first money in the world was also buried---and that's why Ancient Sumerian Shell Money is still available today---even though it's 5,000 years old, it has only recently been dug up by archaeologists in the Mid East.

The Ancient Sumerians invented writing...

Ancient Sumerian Shell Money---approximate size---one inch






1998 CollectSource