It Talks

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01Cows And Shells2011061320120730

Keith Hart on the origins of money as part of an economy of living persons and things.

"Money. You don't know where it's been,

But you put it where your mouth is.

And it talks." (Money, by Dana Gioia)

The history of money stretches back some 11,000 years. There have been certain key moments in its development and each essay tells their story and the resonance that these revolutionary blips have had ever since.

1. Cows - round about 9,000BC cattle were first domesticated. Soon after they became units of exchange and thus the idea of money was born: cows became cash on legs. And they still are - in certain parts of Africa commodities (especially brides) are priced in cows. Professor Keith Hart explores the early examples of money as part of an economy of living persons and things.

Series Producer: Paul Kobrak.

02Banks20110614

These first emerged in Babylonia around 3,000BC.

Temples and palaces provided safe havens for the storage of valuables.

At first just grain was accepted, later other goods including cattle and agricultural implements were banked.

But when precious metals became acceptable, the idea of something not utilitarian having a value became current.

Some 1,200 years later the ruler Hammurabi formulated a code to govern banking operations.

Right from the beginning there were connections between money, banks, religious and temporal authorities.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

03Standards2011061520120802

Exploring the creation of the first international and cross-boundary standards for money.

"Money. You don't know where it's been,

But you put it where your mouth is.

And it talks." (Money, by Dana Gioia)

The history of money stretches back some 11,000 years. There have been certain key moments in its development and each essay tells their story and the resonance that these revolutionary blips have had ever since.

2. Standards - Once the idea that things without use had value there had to be some sort of agreement about them. And so in 2,250 BC Cappadocia became the first state to guarantee the weight and purity of its silver ingots and the idea of inter-national and cross boundary standards came into being. Professor Paul Cartledge tracks their evolution and considers their leagcy.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

04Coins20110616

In 687BC Herodotus criticised the gross commercialism of the Lydians, who were not only the first people to coin money but also the first to open permanent retail shops.

In this Essay, Professor Edith Hall argues that coins not only gave individuals a level of freedom and self-determination unknown before, but also laid the foundations for abstract thought.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

05 LASTPaper Money2011061720120803

Dr Helen Wang discusses the development of paper money.

"Money. You don't know where it's been,

But you put it where your mouth is.

And it talks." (Money, by Dana Gioia)

The history of money stretches back some 11,000 years. There have been certain key moments in its development and each essay tells their story and the resonance that these revolutionary blips have had ever since.

5. Paper Money - Dr. Helen Wang, Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum the development of paper money - partly brought about by a shortage of copper - and explores how civilisation finally came round to the acceptance of something of no intrinsic value having great value.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.