3 financial innovations we owe to ancient civilizations

NNatalie September 4, 2023 10:31 PM

You've probably used a coin, written a check, or deposited money in a bank without giving a second thought to where these financial practices originated. But did you know that many of the financial systems we use today have their roots in ancient civilizations? Let's uncover three major financial innovations we owe to these societies and how they have influenced the world of finance as we know it today.

The concept of money and coinage

The first financial innovation we owe to ancient civilizations is the creation of money. Before the concept of money, barter was the primary method of exchange. However, the Sumerians of Mesopotamia came up with a brilliant idea to use silver as a standard of value, paving the way for the creation of money. Around 600 BC, the Lydians took this concept further by introducing the first coins. This simplified trading and set the foundation for modern monetary systems.

Here's a brief timeline of the development of money:

Civilization Innovation
Sumerians Standard of value using silver
Lydians First coinage

The birth of banking

Banking, as we know it today, finds its roots in the ancient world. The temples of ancient Egypt and Babylonia served as the earliest known banks. They stored grains and precious metals, which were the common forms of wealth, and employed methods of lending and credit. The Romans, later on, established public banks for the management of state funds.

Insurance and risk management

Last but not least, the concept of insurance can be traced back to ancient China. Merchants who made long, risky trips along the treacherous Yangtze River developed a system where they distributed their goods across many vessels. This reduced the risk of total loss from any single ship's capsizing. This idea of spreading risk is a basic principle of modern insurance.

It's fascinating to realize how much our current financial systems owe to ancient civilizations. From the creation of money and banking to the concept of insurance, these ancient societies set the groundwork for the financial systems we know and use today. Understanding this history not only gives us a greater appreciation for these long-gone civilizations but also offers valuable insights into the evolution of finance and might even inspire future innovations.

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