What Did Merchants Do in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, merchants played a crucial role in the economy. They were responsible for importing and exporting goods to and from various regions, making it possible for Greeks to access items that were not available locally. Merchants were highly respected members of society and were often wealthy individuals who made significant contributions to the growth and development of Greek civilization.

Who Were the Merchants in Ancient Greece?

Merchants in ancient Greece came from different parts of the world. Some were Greeks who traded with other Greek cities or foreign lands, while others were foreigners who lived and worked in Greece. These merchants came from places like Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, and Asia Minor.

What Did Merchants Trade?

Merchants traded a wide variety of goods such as spices, precious metals and stones, silk, pottery, wine, olive oil, and other food items. They also traded slaves. The most profitable trade was in luxury goods like exotic animals and perfume oils.

  • Spices: The Greeks loved spices and used them for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes.
  • Precious Metals and Stones: Gold, silver, copper coins were used as currency during this time period.
  • Silk: This luxurious fabric was imported from China or India.
  • Pottery: Greek pottery was famous throughout the Mediterranean world.
  • Wine: Greek wine was popular throughout the Mediterranean world.

How Did Merchants Conduct Their Business?

Most merchants traveled by sea because it was faster than traveling by land. They used ships that varied in size from small boats to large trading vessels called “round ships.” These ships had large storage areas where goods could be stored safely during transportation.

To conduct their business, merchants often formed partnerships or companies. This allowed them to pool their resources and share risks. They also used moneylenders and bankers to finance their ventures.


In conclusion, merchants played a vital role in the ancient Greek economy by importing and exporting goods. They brought luxury items from all over the world and helped to spread Greek culture to other regions. Merchants were highly respected members of society who contributed significantly to the growth and development of Greek civilization.