What Were Coins Made of in Ancient Greece?

Coins have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years, serving as a medium of exchange and a representation of wealth. In the ancient world, coins were made from various materials, ranging from metals to shells. In this article, we will explore what coins were made of in ancient Greece.

The Beginnings of Coinage in Greece

The use of coins as a form of currency started in ancient Greece around 600 BCE. The first Greek coins were made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver found in the river valleys of western Turkey. These early coins were irregular in shape and often featured simple designs such as animal heads or abstract symbols.

Metals Used to Make Coins

As coinage became more established in Greece, the use of metals such as gold, silver, and bronze became more common. Gold was the most valuable metal used for coinage and was often reserved for coins used by rulers or high-ranking officials. Silver was the most widely used metal for common currency and was used to produce both large and small denominations.

Bronze was also commonly used for coinage in ancient Greece. It was cheaper than silver or gold and was used to produce small denominations that could be easily exchanged for goods and services.

The Process of Making Coins

The process of making coins in ancient Greece involved several steps. First, the metal was melted down into a liquid form and then poured into molds that had been carved with the desired design. Once cooled and solidified, the rough edges were trimmed off, and the coin was polished to give it a smooth surface.

Designs on Ancient Greek Coins

Ancient Greek coins often featured designs that reflected their culture’s mythology or political system. Many coins had images of gods or goddesses on one side while featuring symbols related to commerce or agriculture on the other. Some coins also featured portraits of rulers or important figures in Greek society.


Coins were an essential part of ancient Greek society, serving as a medium of exchange and a symbol of wealth. The materials used to make these coins varied over time, with early coins made from electrum and later coins made from gold, silver, and bronze. The designs on these coins reflected the mythology and political system of ancient Greece, making them not just a means of exchange but also a representation of their culture.