In the west, the concept of coins developed to facilitate the bartering of goods and services in the ancient Mediterranean world. Coins have the benefits of being small, valuable, portable, non-perishable, durable and made of universally desirable precious metals.
Initially the practice of using a bronze or copper bar (a talent) for trade was established and later this developed into the use of a metal rod or an obelos from which the obol coin derives its name. Six of these 1.5m rods could be grasped in one hand. The Greek word for grasp is drattomai and this is the origin of the drachm coin.
The ancient region of Lydia, which corresponds to the north-western and central part of modern-day Turkey, has provided some of the earliest coins in existence - from the 7th century B.C.E. The Lydian Lion coins from this region were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Later coins from other Greek cities were made of bronze or silver or gold. The Lydian Lions directly preceded ancient Greek coinage, which in turn influenced all other coinage through the Mediterranean region and central and far eastern Asia. Archaic Greek coins spread further than the Greek-speaking regions and were widely used in the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire through Western Asia and have been found in several hoards found in regions of modern India and Afghanistan.
Coins were first made of lozenges of metal by hitting a hammer positioned over an anvil. Importantly they were made of a regulated weight of the stipulated metal, and their authenticity was marked by stamping the coin with the seal of the city-state or the ruler who issued the coin. The authenticating seal or symbol was placed on the obverse (front) of the coin, while the reverse (back) of the coin usually carried a portrait of a god or ruler associated with the city.