“The economists tell us a neat story about the development of money. The primitive world, they tell us, begins in barter, develops in money, and matures in credit systems. The problem however, is that the historians and the anthropologists have been telling the economists, and telling them for over 100 years, that they can find no record of this development; in fact, the actual history seems to be just the opposite: first comes credit, then money, and finally barter systems. Widespread barter systems only come about after the collapse of monetary systems, and even then money is still used as a unit of account, as a way of equating dissimilar items.” — Friends and Strangers: A Meditation on Money, by John Médaille
Hmm… Well, the author has examples from Mesopotamia through the Rome and medieval Europe, and on to contemporary Greece. And gosh, I wish I’d written that.
But of course what people want to know is not so much where money came from as where all the money went. I think it has something to do with the obelisk shortage.