If you are curious and also want to monitor along, I’ll be spending a little bit of time looking at some details of ancient finance.

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If girlfriend are already somewhat familiar, feel cost-free to either role your eyes together I flounder follow me or chuckle on how slow ns am to catch on. If your knowledge of ancient finances is comparable to mine, the is come say approximately zero, you re welcome feel totally free to join me top top a journey to discover a few details.

Wikipedia has part information about the Greek drachma which appears plausible. Will likewise mention some comment by Prof. Holt.

Comparable value

Article in Wikipedia says some economists and historians to speak one drachma in the fifth century (let me perform a mental calculation – – that would certainly be from about 499BC come 401BC) was about US$25 in 1990 or US$46.50 in 2015.

Classical historians offer a various read because that the fifth and fourth centuries (okay, mental math time, so that would be from approximately 499BC come 301BC, the 400s and 300s). In that time, one drachma would be around one days salaries for a experienced worker or a hoplite. For this reason that would not it is in minimum wage, but more along the line of a carpenter or mason.

Some chroniclers say that half a drachma per day would be a comfortable subsistence for a negative family. That would certainly be around 182.5 drachmas because that a year for negative people.

The unstable valuation of one drachma based on the Wikipedia short article are:

one day wages for professional workerUS$25 in 1990two days subsistence living standard for bad family

On the other hand, Professor frank Holt offers a rough comparability that two drachmae being equal to about one days incomes for a skilled worker. Right here are two data points:

At Kindle location 1782 the comment says Alexander capped the cost of a banquet in ~ 10,000 drachmas i m sorry is 5,000 job pay for a professional Greek building and construction worker.Location 1797 states guests in ~ a banquet could eat 160 drachma the food which was 80 days pay because that a mercenary that the day.

So that gives a valuation of 2 drachmaes equaling a job pay because that a skill building and construction worker or hired military soldier. I’m comfortable using second comparison of half a drachma as negative living because that a poor family.

Silver content

Article says a drachma usually weighed about 4.3 or 4.5 grams and also was 90% silver. Let’s occupational with 4.5 g and ignore variations native city to city.

Plural that drachma is drachmae (hey, I’m catching on!)

70 drachmae = 1 mina, or later on it to be 100 drachmae60 minae – 1 Athenian talent

That means:

1 Athenian talent = 4,200 drachmae

At the content point out of 4.5%
90% pure silver, that converts into:

4.05 g = 1 drachma283.5 g = 1 mina = 70 drachma17,010 g = 17.01 kg = 1 Athenian talent = 60 minae = 4,200 drachmae1 Athenian talent would have 17.01 kg pure silver- or 18.9 kg at challenge weight

Later valuation the a talent

The treasures of Alexander publication by Prof. Holt that I’m analysis repeatedly supplies a ratio of 6,000 drachmae come 1 talent. That would reflect the later on ratio of 100 drachmae to 1 mina mentioned above.

So that would certainly give:

1 Athenian Talent = 6,000 drachmae1 Athenian Talent at the greater ratio would have 24.3 kg pure silver- or 27.0 kg at confront weight.

Ancient ratio of gold to silver

A 4.5 gram silver- drachma to be 90% silver.

A 20-drachma yellow coin contained 5.8 g that gold. I will assume the is 22 carat because I’ve review pure gold is also malleable to use in coins.

Thus we have:

Silver drachma = 4.5 gram
90% = 4.05 gram the silverGold coin = 20 drachma = 5.8 gram gold blended or 5.32 g pure gold at 22/24 carats. Division that by 20 gives 0.266 g the pure gold for 1 drachma.

So we have:

0.266 g gold = 4.05 g silver

Ancient ratio of yellow to silver- is


Professor Holt repeatedly offers a proportion of 10:1 in his book.

Modern proportion of yellow to silver


$17.93 – Engelhard commercial bullion$17.905 – handy & Harman basic price$19.20 – united state silver coins per $1.00 challenge value – silver coins in ~ $14,787 because that $1,000 face, i m sorry is $14.78 every $1 face, at 77% silver the is $19.20


$1,287.83 – Englehard industrial bullion$1,285.65 – handy & Harman base price$1,353.14 – American Eagle

Ratios today:

71.8:1 – Engelhard commercial bullion71.8:1 – handy & Harman basic price70.5:1 – American Eagle to us silver coins

Those 3 ratios are around comparable to every other. A an excellent rough number for today would it is in 70:1.

So, the family member value of yellow to silver this particular day is dramatically various from what the Wikipedia write-up reports because that silver and gold drachmas.

Frame of reference for comparison

It does not job-related to usage the existing value of silver- or yellow to back into the worth of the money in Alexander’s time. The radical increase in typical of life invalidates that comparison. I’ll use days earnings for a skilled worker because that future discussion.

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More special, I’ll usage the rate of pay of 2 drachmae per day for experienced labor discussed by Prof. Holt.