Oct 5 2009

Money in Ancient Greece (greek coinage, ancient greek money)

Money in Ancient Greece (greek coinage, ancient greek money)


Ancient culture and ancient history

More than one thousand cities (or polices – as they were called back then) issued their own coins in the fifth century B.C. in Ancient Greece. Trade did not have many opportunities to develop under such circumstances – the great variety of currency. That is why there were “refectories” in more than 30 cities of Ancient Greece. That is how exchange offices were called. But they had more functions than just currency exchange. One could check authenticity of money, get a credit there, and refectory’s workers took part in deals as agents, witnesses, guarantees, documents and valuables keepers. Exactly those people were the forefathers of nowadays bankers. There is an interesting fact that slaves were the first refectorians (the literary translation from Greek “the man at table”), and such occupation was insignificant. After a while such slaves got the freedom.


The most interesting is that even before the foundation of refectories in Ancient Greece the crediting had been already known, and the temples were engaged in this. In the time of excavations of Delos temple the system of money keeping became known. Money was put in the pots, which pot had a number, the sum money, the source and the date written on it. There were 26 refectories in Athens in the IV century B.C. This job expected high level of proficiency, refectorian should have known the metal content in coins, coins rate in different polices, define the level of wearing-out of money, foresee the possibility of recoinage and appearance of counterfeit currency. There is no surprise that a specific sum of money was charged from the clients.


When refectories saved up some money, they preferred to loan it to people and not to keep. One of the most famous and rich banker of that time was the Athens resident Passion (IV century B.C.), who earned 39 talents that was a great sum of money back then.

Since III century B.C. the being a refectorian had started to count honorable. Noble citizens began to become bankers, but as usual, they were from other cities. By this time the record side of banking calculation became more stable, the financial traditions appeared and the bankers became more trusted by common people.


Ancient greek money

Athens monetary system looked like this:

6 obols = 1 drachm (ancient coins of Greece)

100 drachms = 1 mine

600 mines = 1 talent (or 56 pounds of silver)

Unskilled worker in Athens could have earned ½ of drachm per day, while qualified worker earned 2 drachms. Sculptor and doctors earned 6 drachms per day.

Ancient greek money

The prices in Athens were approximately like this:

Bread – 1 obol

Sheep – 8 drachms

Gallon of olive oil – 5 drachms

Shoes – 8-12 drachms

Slaves – 200-300 drachms

Houses – 400-1000 drachms


To be continued:

ancient culture, ancient history and more…

greek money, ancient coins of Greece, ancient greek money

2 Comments on this post


  1. The history of banks and money in ancient Rome | Your guide in the world of finance wrote:

    [...] greek money [...]

    October 5th, 2009 at 12:35 pm
  2. money in Ancient Greece | Your guide in the world of finance wrote:

    [...] coins in ancient Greece produced the 1136 cities. One can imagine the difficulties of financial and commercial [...]

    October 15th, 2009 at 11:56 pm


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