BITCOIN and blockchain may seem extremely modern but archaeologists have evidence to show that the concept behind them is far older than we think.
A tiny island called Yap in the Pacific Ocean is home to remnants of an ancient currency system that involves giant stone disks that worked similar to how block chain does today.
The giant stone disks are called rai and were used a as a symbolic form of money by the Yapese islanders for hundreds of years and are still sometimes used today for traditional or ceremonial purposes.
The doughnut shaped rings may look completely different to the digital and invisible bitcoin system but they are similar in the sense that both currencies depend upon a public, community ledger system, so that everyone is aware of transactions and no centralised banking system is required.
Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick from the University of Oregon said: “They are one of the world’s most intriguing coins.
“Carved from limestone quarries located in the Palau islands some 250 miles (400 km) from Yap, they’re the largest objects ever moved over the open Pacific Ocean during the pre-European contact era.”
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin got you baffled? Here’s what you really need to know
- Bitcoin is a virtual currency
- It’s traded between people without the help of a bank
- Every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, or ‘blockchain’
- Bitcoin is created by mining
- Mining involves solving difficult maths problems using computer processors
- Bitcoin can be traded anonymously, which makes it a popular way of funding illegal activities
- A single Bitcoin is worth just under £5,000 today, but the value fluctuates wildly
- Bitcoin is one of many different cryptocurrencies, but by far the most popular
In a new study by Fitzpatrick and co-author Stephen McKeon, they state that rai stone money was extremely valuable but given its size, weight and fragility it was barely ever moved around the island.
They go on to explain that “as a result, if…