Barley, a versatile grain, has long played a significant role as a form of commodity money throughout history. Its use as a medium of exchange dates back to ancient civilizations, such as Sumer and ancient Egypt (Tainter, 1988). In these societies, barley was not only consumed as a staple food but was also used as a unit of value in trade transactions in many ancient societies in the past and especially in the classical era of humanity.
Barley's adoption as a form of money can be attributed to its qualities that made it a desirable medium of exchange. It was a durable commodity that could be stored over time without spoiling, and its standardized weight and measurement made it ideal for facilitating trade (Cambridge University Press, 1992). Additionally, barley's availability and widespread cultivation made it accessible to various social classes, contributing to its acceptance as a common form of money (Tainter, 1988).
Historical evidence supports the use of barley as commodity money in tax payments, temple offerings, and commercial transactions (Powell, 2014). For instance, in ancient Egypt, taxes were often paid in barley, and temple records frequently mention its use in donations and offerings (Powell, 2014). Furthermore, cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia reveal that Babylonian farmers used barley as a medium of exchange for agricultural produce and labor (Cambridge University Press, 1992).
- Cambridge University Press. (1992). The Cambridge Ancient History (Vol. II, Part II). Cambridge University Press.
- Powell, M. A. (2014). The use and abuse of ancient coins. - Tainter, J. A. (1988). The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge University Press.