Home > Uncategorized > Bitcoin and Yap stone money, once again.

Bitcoin and Yap stone money, once again.

In October 2015 I wrote a post in which I compared Bitcoin with Yap island stone money. Farfetched? No. Today, Sciencenews published an article by Bruce Bower. He states that archeologists nowadays argue the same thing. An excerpt:

Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick and finance professor Stephen McKeon, both of the University of Oregon in Eugene, see parallels between the public, decentralized way in which rai limestone money on the island of Yap was valued and distributed and the modern-day blockchain technology used for Bitcoin and other digital currency transactions.


Rai: Yap residents traveled to nearby islands where limestone was mined and carved into circular rai. At home, the miners described each item’s manufacturing history to the community so that everyone knew a rai’s worth.

Bitcoin: A Bitcoin miner solves a complex mathematical puzzle to release units of the cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology verifies the transaction for all those in the network to see.

Storage (custody)

Rai: By displaying rai in public places, villagers and others could verify the quality and features of each item.

Bitcoin: Sets of bitcoins are held in a digital ledger where network participants can check the accuracy of ownership and value claims.

Peer-to-peer negotiation

Rai: A Yapese group worked out a deal with nearby islanders to quarry certain limestone deposits.

Bitcoin: This process occurs when a Bitcoin miner receives a digital request for Bitcoins.


Rai: After verification and placement in a public place, rai could be exchanged for various goods and services.

Bitcoin: After verification and placement on the blockchain, Bitcoins can be exchanged between owners or given for various goods and services.


Rai: Oral transaction histories for each rai were available to all community members on Yap.

Bitcoin:  Full transaction histories for each Bitcoin are available to all those in a blockchain network.

  1. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    July 30, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Wow, no need to steal electricity to generale a unique, non-tangible number. Just take a verified picture of it & submit. Oh, those Yapians. I was thinking of cowrie shell money, once used around the world; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_money

  2. Helen Sakho
    July 31, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Or buy and wear the teeshirt “Shell Means Hell”.
    Or look up ” Shocked bu Ukraine Violence, NATO Prepares to Face Down Putin” written only 3-4 years ago.
    Extract from this is as follow: ” The invasion of Crimea was a wake up call”.
    Suddenly we realised that Russia has an ugly face.” “It has been a reminder of our core defence role at Nato. We have to adapt and we will adapt.”
    If I were not so mesmerised by the beauty of Mr. Putin, or stupefied by the grace of Mr. Trump, I would suggest that they should adopt a few street children from anywhere in the world and repent. So, I think it best to stick to Ruspoutin, who was ugly as hell, but at least charismatic, or send a love letter to Mr. Gorbachov and offer him a new hair wash to remove the soviet flag from his forehead. Perhaps, he did not keep the love letter written to him with love all those years ago. Yapian has a long history.
    Economics remains a motherless discipline, without a philosophy or even a father who would act as a brave role model to protect its formulae.
    Science, like us, will never know where it is heading, if it does not acknowledge whence it came. We have a duty towards our students. Let us define our core values before we export them.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 1, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      Helen, modern Western economic theory was been very lucky to serve as chief apologist to the tech- & finance- driven globalization of production & consumption, it seems to me. The people I know just shut up and draw their $160,000-$240,000 annual base income with little teaching but great opportunities to travel to conferences where they deliver papers/ speeches for additional remuneration. What’s not to like about this American Express Diamond Card existence?

  3. August 12, 2018 at 7:39 am

    The archaeologists almost got it right. But not quite. Blockchain today either works with, within, or for the anarchists involved attempts to destroy modern markets. The Yap had no such foci with the Rai. The Yap’s Rai money was not based on the western notion of markets or capitalism. Blockchain is developed from modern markets and capitalism. From beginning to end Rai money and blockchain are cultural artifacts. The result of a community assessment and building process. But constructed in very different cultures. It’s important we don’t ignore these differences.

    • merijntknibbe
      August 12, 2018 at 7:18 pm

      Good point!

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