What Kind of Coins Did Ancient Greece Have?

The ancient Greeks were known for their contributions to philosophy, art, and science, but did you know that they also had a fascinating monetary system? The currency used in ancient Greece was diverse and varied over time. In this article, we’ll explore the different kinds of coins that the Greeks used.

Ancient Greek Coins: An Overview

The first coins used in ancient Greece were made of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver that was found in riverbeds. These coins were not standardized and came in various shapes and sizes. They were eventually replaced by coins made entirely of gold or silver.

Athenian Owl Coins

One of the most famous ancient Greek coins is the Athenian Owl coin, which was minted in Athens between 510-480 BCE. These coins featured an owl on one side and the goddess Athena on the other. The owl symbolized wisdom while Athena represented strength and power.

Tetradrachm Coins

Tetradrachm coins were widely used in Ancient Greece from the 5th century BCE until Roman times. These silver coins were equivalent to four drachmas (the basic unit of Greek currency) and typically featured a portrait of a god or goddess on one side and a scene depicting an important event on the other.

Stater Coins

Stater coins were another type of currency used in Ancient Greece from around the 6th century BCE until Roman times. These gold or silver coins featured various designs such as animals or mythological figures. Some well-known examples include the Corinthian stater featuring Pegasus (a winged horse) and the Aegina stater featuring a sea turtle.

  • Fun Fact: The Aegina stater is considered by many to be one of the first “world coins” as it was widely used throughout the Mediterranean.

Drachma Coins

The drachma was the basic unit of currency in ancient Greece and was first introduced around 700 BCE. These silver coins featured various designs such as a portrait of a god or goddess on one side and a symbol on the other.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the monetary system of ancient Greece was diverse and fascinating. From electrum to gold and silver, from owls to sea turtles, the coins used in ancient Greece were not only functional but also beautiful works of art. It’s no wonder that they continue to capture the imagination of people today.