How Much Was Silver Worth in Ancient Times?

Silver has been a valuable and precious metal for thousands of years. Its unique properties have made it a popular choice for various purposes, from jewelry to currency.

But how much was silver worth in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The Early Days

Silver mining dates back to around 3000 BC in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), but it wasn’t until around 1500 BC that silver began to be used as currency. In ancient Egypt, silver was valued at about two-thirds the value of gold. This ratio remained relatively stable throughout ancient times.

Ancient Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece, silver coins were known as drachmae. The value of a drachma varied over time, but during the heyday of Athens in the 5th century BC, one drachma was worth roughly the equivalent of a day’s wage for a skilled laborer.

In ancient Rome, silver coins were denarii. At its peak, one denarius was worth about four sesterces, which could buy enough food for one person for a day.

Medieval Times

During medieval times in Europe, the value of silver varied greatly depending on the region and time period. In England during the 13th century, an ounce of silver was worth about four pence (equivalent to about £0.58 today).

In other parts of Europe during this time period, an ounce of silver could be worth up to six or seven pence.

The Americas

In pre-Columbian America, silver was highly valued by various indigenous cultures. The Inca Empire used silver extensively in their art and architecture.

After the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in South America in the 16th century, large amounts of silver were mined and shipped back to Europe. This influx caused inflation and led to the decline of the Spanish economy.


In conclusion, the value of silver has fluctuated throughout history, but it has always been a precious and valuable commodity. From ancient times to modern day, its unique properties and various uses have made it an important part of human civilization.