Did Ancient Greece Have a Common Currency?

In ancient Greece, a common currency did not exist in the way we understand it today. Instead, several different types of currencies were used across the various city-states and regions.

Types of Currency

Ancient Greek Drachma:

The most well-known currency in ancient Greece was the drachma. It originated in the 7th century BC and was widely used for several centuries.

The drachma was made of silver, and its value was based on its weight. Different city-states minted their own versions of the drachma, each with their own design and weight standards.

Other Coins:

In addition to the drachma, other types of coins were also used within Greece. These included the stater, which was a larger denomination coin, as well as smaller denominations like the obol and hemiobol.

Coin Designs

City-State Symbols:

One interesting aspect of ancient Greek coins is that they often featured symbols representing the issuing city-state. For example, Athens frequently depicted an owl on their coins, while Corinth featured a flying horse known as Pegasus.

Gods and Goddesses:

In addition to city-state symbols, Greek coins also commonly depicted various gods and goddesses. These representations served as a way to honor deities and add religious significance to the currency.

Bartering and Trade

No Unified Currency:

While different forms of currency were used throughout ancient Greece, it is important to note that there was no unified currency across all city-states. This lack of a common currency presented challenges for trade between regions. Bartering, or the exchange of goods and services without using money, was a common practice in these situations.

Value of Precious Metals:

The value of coins was determined by the weight of the precious metals they contained, primarily silver. As a result, the value of coins fluctuated based on the availability and quality of silver in a particular region.


In conclusion, ancient Greece did not have a common currency as we do today. Instead, various forms of currency were used within different city-states and regions. The drachma was the most well-known currency, but other coins such as the stater, obol, and hemiobol were also in circulation.

These coins often featured city-state symbols and representations of gods and goddesses. The lack of a unified currency presented challenges for trade, leading to bartering practices between regions. Despite not having a common currency system, ancient Greece’s use of different currencies provides us with valuable insights into their economic and cultural history.