Converting currencies in the Old World

Nature. 2001 May 24;411(6836):437. doi: 10.1038/35078143.


Raw materials recovered from archaeological excavations in the Indus Valley, the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean reflect the existence of long-distance trading during the Bronze Age, which united these regions into networks of commercial exchange. As each region relied on a different set of weights for trading, a straightforward conversion system must have been in operation. Here we describe a simple and universal conversion system that could have provided an economic key to the trade networks of the Old World between 2500 and 1000 bc.