GREEK CURRENCY IN THE CLASSICAL AGE

UNITS OF RECKONING

1 Talent = 60 minae = 6,000 drachmae

The talent and mina were measures of weight for large sums of money (coins or bullion) rather than coins. The DRACHMA was the denomination upon which Greek currencies were based. Each drachma was divided into six OBOLS. Dennominations were struck either as multiples or fractions of the drachma and the obol:

Decadrachma 10 drachmae tetrobol 4 obols
Tetradrachma 4 drachmae tribobol* 3 obols
Tridrachma 3 drachmae diobol 2 obols
Didrachma 2 drachmae obol 1 obol
Drachma 1 drachma hemiobol 1/2 obol


*The triobol was also called a hemidrachma or half-drachma.

WEIGHT STANDARDS AND DENOMINATIONS

Cities premised their currency upon a drachma of varying weight so that coins were exchanged in the market according to their weight. The four crucial standards were the AEGINETIC (employed by the island polis Aegina and cities of the Peloponnesus and Central Greece), the ATTIC or EUBOIC (employed by Athens, Corinth, Sicilian colonies, and cities in the Aegean), the PERSIC, the standard of the Lydian kings (employed by the Great King of Persia and the Asian Greeks), and the Phoenician standard used in the Levant. Cities minted a STATER or principal trade coin for large scale transactions. In Athens, the stater was a tetradrachma (17.2 g), while in Aegina the stater was a didrachma (12.2 g). The Persian king minted a gold DARIC exchanged against 20 silver SIGLOI (and the equivalent of 25 Attic drachmae). The kings of Lydia and Greek cities of Thrace and northern Asia Minor minted staters made of ELECTRUM (an ally of gold and silver) exchanged at 27 Attic drachmae.

PRINCIPAL GREEK COINS

Authority Denomination Standard Weight
AEGINA didrachma Aeginetic 12.20 g
drachma Aeginetic 6.10 g
ATHENS decadrachma Attic 43.25 g
tetradrachma Attic 17.20 g
drachma Attic 4.30 g
obol Attic 0.72 g
CORINTH didrachma Attic 8.60 g
CYZICUS electrum stater Phocaic 16.01 g
LYDIA electrum stater Persic 14.20 g
gold stater Persic 10.90 g
silver stater Persic 5.55 g
PERSIA gold daric Persic 8.35 g
Silver siglos Persic 5.35 g
PHOENICIA shekel Phoenician 7.00 g
SYRACUSE decadrachma Attic 43.25 g
tetradrachma Attic 17.20 g
drachma Attic 4.30 g