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Coinage In Ancient Greece

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Invention of coinage in ancient Greece, Ancient Greek Coinage.

There is absolutely nothing new under the sun. When it comes to financial transactions, you will be surprised to know that the basics of currency that is used today dates back thousands of years. A lot of what we know today was inspired even before Alexander the great of Greece became an inspirational world leader. The Hellenistic mindset that came to be after the death of Alexander the great allowed more cultures to understand Greek civilization. Like any expanding empire, the invention of coins was not only about monetary exchange but also about power and glory. Because a lot of commercial transactions took place between traveling merchants all around Greek empire, there had to be some form of standard exchange. Most people preferred to be paid in gold or silver which led to the invention of coinage in ancient Greece and made standardized payments inevitable.

The minting process was manual which explains why most of the surviving ancient Greek coins have different shapes. That said, there was a standard way to that had to be respected in order to get value for commercial exchanges. For example, some coins weigh about 6.1 grams and are given the name the Drachma. This is an interesting invention because the word Drachma means a handful. So if you're getting a handful of product, you will be expected to part with a gold coin that weighs 6.1 grams. This practice later became the standard due to the extension of the Greek empire under Alexander the great.

It is interesting to note that the practice continued even when the Empire was no longer a world power. Ancient Greek coins are thought to have started about 600 years before Christ. They continued throughout Asia Minor and survived the decline of Greek domination into the Roman era. If you remember the biblical account of Judas who sold Jesus for 30 piece of silver around the year 33 AD, the practice of minting silver and gold was still around some 300 years after Alexander the Great’s rule. As a side note, those in the first century who wrote the Bible and the part that is now known as the new testament wrote in the Greek language.


Coins added a lot of value to the Greek society. It allowed the Greeks to trade without using the barter system, and also it allowed the Greeks to trade their goods with other civilizations without issues since gold and silver were standard currencies at the time.

It is mentioned above that the invention of coinage in ancient Greece was not only of monetary value but also of political and historical importance. That is why many ancient coins feature heads of rulers and important dates in their political career. As you can see, we have taken many ideas from the Greeks, they have influenced the way we do business and conduct transactions today. Ancient Greek coinage not only provide an insight into what life was hundreds of years ago but also set the basis for the way we do business today.



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