What Was the Value of Gold in Ancient Times?

Gold has been a valuable commodity for thousands of years and has been prized for its beauty, rarity, and durability. Its value has fluctuated throughout history, but it has always been highly sought after. Let’s take a look at the value of gold in ancient times.

Gold in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians considered gold to be the skin of the gods and believed it to be indestructible and eternal. They used it to adorn their pharaohs, temples, and tombs.

The value of gold in ancient Egypt was based on its rarity and symbolic significance rather than its economic value. One piece of evidence of this is that they used it as a standard for bartering goods rather than coins.

The Weight System

The Egyptians created a weight system called the “shekel,” which was used to measure all precious metals, including gold. The shekel was equivalent to about 11 grams or just under half an ounce.

Gold as Currency

Gold eventually became widely accepted as currency in ancient Egypt around 1500 BCE. However, it was still used primarily for religious purposes rather than economic ones.

Gold in Ancient Rome

The Romans were known for their love of luxury and excess, which included their use of gold. Gold coins were first minted by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in 46 BCE and were used throughout the empire as currency.

The Aureus Coin

The most famous Roman gold coin was the Aureus, which was worth 25 silver denarii or about one month’s wages for a skilled laborer. The Aureus featured images of emperors or gods on one side and symbols of victory or military conquest on the other.


As with any currency system, inflation became an issue during times of war or economic instability. In the third century CE, the value of gold began to decline as emperors debased the currency by reducing the amount of gold in each coin.

Gold in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greeks considered gold to be a symbol of wealth and power and used it primarily for jewelry and high-end decoration.

Gold Mining

The Greeks were skilled miners and produced large amounts of gold from their mines. They also traded with other cultures for gold.

The Drachma Coin

Like the Romans, the Greeks used coins as currency. The most common coin was the drachma, which was made of silver but had a small amount of gold mixed in. The value of the drachma fluctuated depending on how much silver or gold was used to make it.


In conclusion, the value of gold in ancient times varied depending on its availability and use. It was used primarily for religious or symbolic purposes rather than economic ones until it became widely accepted as currency in later years.

Its value fluctuated based on inflation and debasement during times of economic instability. However, its beauty, rarity, and durability ensured that it remained highly sought after throughout history.