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Silver, Butter, ClothMonetary and Social Economies in the Viking Age$
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Jane Kershaw, Gareth Williams, Søren Sindbæk, and James Graham-Campbell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198827986

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198827986.001.0001

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Silver Fragmentation

Silver Fragmentation

Reinterpreting the Evidence of the Hoards

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Silver Fragmentation
Source:
Silver, Butter, Cloth
Author(s):

Marek Jankowiak

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198827986.003.0002

This chapter explores the phenomenon of silver fragmentation from the evidence of silver hoards deposited in the Baltic area. Focusing on the evidence of dirhams, it charts an increase in silver fragmentation in an anticlockwise direction around the Baltic Sea. This culminates in hoards from the west Slavic lands (Poland and eastern Germany), in which dirham fragments often weigh just fractions of a gram. Chronological and geographical patterns are presented to suggest that the degree of dirham fragmentation reflects not local monetary circulation, but the number of times dirhams changed hands in commercial transactions. In this sense, the degree of fragmentation reflects the distance dirhams travelled from their source. The implication is that silver was above all a means of payment in transactions related to the long-distance trade—especially in slaves and furs.

Keywords:   dirhams, fragmentation, hack-silver, hoards, Baltic, west Slavic (Poland, eastern Germany), slaves, long-distance trade

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