With the conquest of Lydia, the Persians were introduced to coinage. The Lydians did not take to the shipment of their hard won treasure east meekly. After bringing the Lydians to heel Cyrus finished his last great conquest Babylon, before heading to his doom on the Steppes. By conquering Babylon and freeing the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity he earned himself a lot of good press for posterity.
The Phanes coins are the first coins with Greek inscriptions. The Greek alphabet itself was adapted from the Phoenician Alphabet after the Greek Dark Ages. This episode takes a look at the emergence of the Greek script and the coins of Phanes. Five of the seven denominations of this coinage are depicted in the cover art.
It is almost a century since the disastrous end of the Greco-Turkish War ended the almost three millennia of Greek presence in Western Asia Minor. The Greek cities of the region played a pivotal role in shaping Greek culture and Western Philosophy. They were also along with the Lydians candidates for minting the first coins.
A new power rises in the Middle East. The Persians under Cyrus the great are on the move, taking Media and Babylonia.
In Lydia, Croesus has succeeded his father Alyattes and issues the first gold and silver coinage. Comforted the advice of the Oracle of Delphi, he decides to crush the Persian upstart once and for all.
The first western coinage is generally attributed to the Kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia. The Greek cities of Ionia are another contender and started minting coins at the same time or soon after. However, the electrum deposits used to make these first coins were within Lydia, making them the likely first issuers of coinage.
The episode looks at the rise of the Lydian Kingdom after the fall of the Hittites and the Kingdom of Phrygia and ends with the balance of power on the death of Alyattes.