Coins date back to the Iron Age. They first appeared in either Lydia or Ionia (both now in modern-day Turkey) prior to 600 B.C. The Ionians were Greek and the Lydians were an Anatolian people. The first coins were made out of electrum, a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver.
Greek commerce spread the use of coins around the ancient Mediterranean. From there they reached Persia, the Balkans, and ultimately the world.
Unlike modern coins, ancient coins tend to have a high relief and are often less than perfectly round. Furthermore, since most were stamped by hand, the features are often at least slightly off-center. The dies for these coins were engraved by hand and several engravers may have been employed in producing the dies for a given issue of coins. Since the dies were produced by different artists, coins that are of the exact same type may have noticeable differences between them!
In addition to stamped coins, there are also examples of cast coins from antiquity. Cast coinage is made by pouring molten metal into a mold (a process known as "casting") rather than stamping hot metal with dies to receive an image.
Many ancient coins on the market today were found in hoards that were buried in antiquity and never retrieved by their original owners. Some are new finds and others have passed from collector to collector through the long years.
Ancient coins may sometimes be purchased in unsorted lots, which require the purchaser to identify the coins on their own. Lots that contain dirty and encrusted coins are also available, but cleaning requires care lest the coins be ruined.
In this section you will find pages that discuss Biblical Coins as well as coins of ancient Greece and Rome. At present the sections on Greek and Roman coins are very general. Additional pages may be added in the future.