Were There Banks in Ancient Times?

Banks play an essential role in our modern society, providing financial services and support to individuals and businesses. However, have you ever wondered if banks existed in ancient times In this article, we will explore the history of banking and discover if banks existed in ancient times.

The Origin of Banking

Banking has been around for thousands of years. The first banks were developed in ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. However, these institutions were quite different from modern banks.

In Mesopotamia around 2000 BC, temples became the first financial institutions. They accepted deposits of grains or precious metals from citizens as a way to store wealth safely. Citizens would receive a receipt for their deposit that they could use to exchange goods or withdraw their deposits later.

In ancient Egypt around 1500 BC, grain banks were established to finance large construction projects like the Great Pyramids. Peasants would deposit grains during the harvest season and then withdraw them during the planting season.

Ancient Greek Banking

Ancient Greek banking emerged around 800 BC with the introduction of coins as currency. Moneylenders known as trapezitai began to lend money to people who needed it. These lenders would set up tables (trapezai) at markets where they could lend money at high-interest rates.

However, this type of banking was risky because there was no way to ensure that borrowers would repay their loans. As a result, many lenders went bankrupt when borrowers defaulted on their loans.

Roman Banking

Roman banking was more sophisticated than Greek banking. The Romans developed a system of credit that allowed merchants to obtain loans based on their reputation and creditworthiness.

The first Roman banks were established around 300 BC. These banks were private institutions that provided loans to wealthy individuals and businesses. They also offered services such as currency exchange and money transfers.

The Evolution of Banking

Over time, banking continued to evolve. In the Middle Ages, Italian merchants developed a system of banking that allowed them to finance long-distance trade. They created bills of exchange, which were like modern-day checks that could be traded between merchants.

In the 17th century, the first modern banks emerged in Europe. These banks offered a range of financial services, including deposits, loans, and investments.


In conclusion, while modern banks may seem like a recent invention, the history of banking dates back thousands of years. From grain banks in ancient Egypt to private Roman institutions and modern-day banks, banking has undergone significant changes throughout history.

  • Mesopotamia temples accepted deposits of grains or precious metals from citizens
  • Ancient Egypt had grain banks for financing large construction projects
  • Ancient Greeks had moneylenders known as trapezitai who would lend money at high-interest rates
  • Roman banking was more sophisticated with a system of credit based on reputation and creditworthiness
  • Modern-day banking evolved from a range of financial services offered by European banks in the 17th century

Despite these differences, one thing remains constant; banking has always been an essential part of society’s economic growth and development.