Was There Money in Ancient Times?

Money is a concept that we take for granted in our modern world. It’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t use paper currency or plastic cards for transactions. But was there money in ancient times?

The answer is yes, but it looked very different from what we know today. Let’s delve into the history of money and explore how ancient civilizations handled their financial transactions.

The Origins of Money

The concept of money can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, where people used commodities such as barley and silver as a form of currency. These items had intrinsic value and could be traded for goods and services.

Over time, precious metals such as gold and silver became the standard form of currency in many cultures. Coins were minted with varying denominations, allowing people to more easily conduct transactions.

Money in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt is perhaps best known for its wealth and opulence, but how did they handle their finances? In this civilization, the unit of currency was the deben – a weight measurement equivalent to about 91 grams of copper or silver.

Egyptians also used bartering as a means of exchange. For example, farmers would trade their crops for goods like pottery or jewelry.

Ancient Greek Currency

In ancient Greece, coins were minted from precious metals like gold and silver. The drachma was one of the most common forms of currency used throughout various city-states in Greece.

Interestingly enough, Greeks also used commodities like salt as a form of payment. This practice eventually led to the creation of the word “salary,” which comes from salarium – a Latin word meaning “salt money.”

Roman Currency

The Romans are often credited with inventing modern currency systems thanks to their widespread use of coins with standardized denominations. The denarius was one such coin, and it was used throughout the Roman Empire.

In addition to coins, Romans also used commodities like salt, wheat, and even livestock as a form of payment. This system of bartering was particularly prevalent in rural areas.


Money has been a part of human civilization for thousands of years. From the barley used by ancient Mesopotamians to the standardized coins of the Roman Empire, the way we handle our finances has evolved significantly over time.

While our modern systems of credit cards and online banking may seem far removed from these early forms of currency, it’s fascinating to see how ancient civilizations laid the groundwork for our current financial systems.