What Did the Money Look Like in Ancient Greece?

Money has been an integral part of human civilization for thousands of years. Ancient Greece, one of the most influential civilizations in history, also had its own unique currency system. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the money looked like in ancient Greece.

Introduction to Ancient Greek Currency

The currency used in ancient Greece was based on a system of weights and measures. The basic unit of currency was the drachma, which was first introduced in Athens in the 6th century BCE. The word “drachma” itself means “handful,” which is thought to refer to the handfuls of coins that were minted from a single piece of silver.

Types of Coins

There were several types of coins used in ancient Greece, each with its own denomination and value. Some of the most common coins included:

  • Tetradrachm – worth four drachmae
  • Didrachm – worth two drachmae
  • Drachm – basic unit of currency
  • Obol – worth one-sixth of a drachma

Design and Appearance

The design and appearance of ancient Greek coins varied depending on where they were minted and during which time period. However, there were some common features that were present across all coins.

One side of the coin typically featured an image or symbol that represented the city-state or ruler who minted it. For example, Athens’ coins often featured images of Athena, their patron goddess.

The other side typically featured a simple design such as a geometric pattern or an animal. This side was also often stamped with letters or numbers that indicated its weight and denomination.

Metal Used for Coins

The metal used for ancient Greek coins was primarily silver, although some coins were also made of gold or bronze. The quality and purity of the metal varied depending on the region and time period.


In conclusion, ancient Greek currency was based on a system of weights and measures, with the drachma being the basic unit of currency. Coins came in various denominations and were made primarily of silver, although gold and bronze coins were also used.

The design and appearance of the coins varied depending on where they were minted and during which time period. Despite all these variations, ancient Greek currency played a crucial role in shaping their economy and society as a whole.