Classical Numismatic Reference


Chalkos (or chalkus, chalcus), meaning "copper", a small coin worth one eighth of a silver obol.

Cistophoros (or cistophorus, cistophor), a silver coin first issued in the Kingdom of Pergamon (Pergamum) in the 2nd Century B.C., meaning "chest bearer", relating to the cista mystica, the serpent-entwined chest or basket of the Dionysian Mysteries, that originally appeared on it. It was a type of tetradrachm worth 3 denarii in Roman times.

Dekadrachm (or decadrachm), large silver coin having a value of 10 drachmai, only issued on very special occasions, almost exclusively as a commemorative medal.

Didrachm, "2 drachmai"; not as common as the tetradrachm (which was worth twice its value).

Diobol, silver coin with a value of one-third of a drachm, or 2 obols.

Dodekadrachm (dodecadrachm), largest of the ancient Greek coins, with a value of 12 drachmai. Minted in Carthage beginning in 237 B.C.

Drachma (or drachm, plural: drachmai), the basic silver coin of Ancient Greece, where it was also the name of a standard weight. A derivation of the Greek word "dragma" which meant "handful", pertaining to the fact that it represented a handful of obols which was standardized to 6, and originally pertaining to a handful of the pre-coinage square metal bars.

Hekte (or hecte, from the Greek word "hektos", meaning "sixth"), a gold or electrum (elektron) coin valued at one-sixth (1/6) of a stater.

Hemidrachm ("half-drachma"), equal to the triobol.

Hemihekte (or hemihecte), a coin with a value of a half of a hekte, or one-twelfth (1/12) of a stater.

Hemiobol, coin with a value of half of an obol, or one-twelfth (1/12) of a drachma.

Lepton (plural: lepta), meaning "small", a very small weight that came to generally designate any small bronze coin.

Litra (Greek for "pound"), originally a unit of weight in Sicily, equal to the Roman libra. It was first issued as a coin of silver in the 6th Century B.C. When it was close in size and weight to the obol. It was minted as both a silver and bronze coin until the 2nd Century B.C. "Litre", or "liter" is derived from it.

Mina (plural: minae; derived from the Greek mna, from the Chaldean manah, "to count", related to the Phoenician maneh, "to count"), a money of account equal to 100 drachmai, or 60 shekels, or 100 sigloi, or 1/60th of a talent; originally adopted from the Babylonians and Assyrians.

Mite, traditionally believed by numismatic scholars to represent the lepton, or Jewish prutah; as in the biblical "widow's mite", itself often more strictly identified with the smaller half-prutah issues struck in the period following the rule of Alexander Yannai (Jannaeus) imitating issues first struck during his rule.

Nomos (from the Greek for "custom", or "usage"), a denominational name used for the staters of Magna Graecia ("Greater Greece" - Greek Italy) and Sicily, and particularly those silver issues of Tarentum (Taras) in Calabria. Originally referred to currency/money in general.

Obol (obolus), both a unit of weight and a small silver coin equal to 1/6th of a drachma. In Roman times it was bronze issue.

Octadrachm (octodrachm), a silver coin valued at 8 drachmai; also a gold coin issued by some of the Ptolemies, also known as a mneion since it had a value of 100 silver drachmai, or (one mina)

Octobol. Silver coin of eight obols.

Pentadrachm. A silver coin of 5 drachmai; although mentioned in ancient texts, none have yet been found. Also a gold coin struck under the Ptolemies of Egypt.

Shekel (Hebrew: shekel, from the verb shaqal: "to weigh"), the main silver coin of the Jews in biblical times, originally equal in weight to 3 thousandths of a talent.

Siglos (or siklon, siklos; Greek form of the Semitic sekel or shekel ), a denomination (5.4 grams, later 5.6 grams) of Persia and Asia Minor of the 5th and 4th Centuries B.C.

Stater (Greek: "standard coin"), a gold and silver issue; the weight varied depending on the (city-state) standard; often it was a double unit of another denomination (i.e. the drachma).

Tetradrachm (4 drachmai), the largest standard silver piece of Ancient Greece.

Tetarte (or, in the abbreviated form: tetarton; "quarter"), gold quarter-stater (the term is found in Ptolemaic writings).

Tetartemorion (or tartemorion; "quarter part"), a silver coin worth one quarter of an obol struck at Athens and on occasion elsewhere.

Tetrobol (4 obols, or oboloi), a silver coin equal to two-thirds of a drachma.

Triobol (3 obols, or oboloi), a silver coin equal to a half a drachma.

Tritartemorion (or tartemorion; "three quarter parts"; 3/4 obol), a silver coin equal to one-eighth of a drachma.