The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms) 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.
Coins were first made in the seventh century BC, in the Greek world. Coins also began to be used outside the Greek domain, in Persia, for example, and bronze (or similar copper alloys) coins appeared in addition to the silver and rarer gold coins.
However the very earliest Greek coins were not made of gold or silver but rather of electrum, a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver that was especially common in the Lydian rivers. Since the gold/silver ratio in natural electrum is variable, the Lydian kings purposely regulated the proportion of gold in their coinage to guarantee that it would have a consistent value.
The Greek world was divided into more than two thousand self-governing city-states (in Greek, poleis), and more than half of them issued their own coins. Some coins circulated widely beyond their polis, indicating that they were being used in inter-city trade; the first example appears to have been the silver stater or didrachm of Aegina that regularly turns up in hoards in Egypt and the Levant, places which were deficient in silver supply. As such coins circulated more widely, other cities began to mint coins to this "Aeginetan" weight standard of (6.1 grams to the drachm), other cities included their own symbols on the coins.
Archaic Greek coinage seems to have had a very wide circulation in the Achaemenid Empire. Many of them were discovered in coin hoards throughout the Achaemenid Empire such as the Ghazzat hoard and the Apadana hoard, and also very far to the East, such as the Kabul hoard or the Pushkalavati hoard in Ancient India, following the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley. Generally, Greek coins (both Archaic and early Classical) are comparatively very numerous in the Achaemenid coin hoards discovered in the East of the Achaemenid Empire, much more numerous than Sigloi, suggesting that the circulation of Greek coinage was central in the monetary system of those part of the Empire.
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