The Greek Drachma Currency Was Used For Over 3,000 Years

Grace Higgins | March 30th, 2020

The drachma, as was called the Greek currency before implementing the Euro was one of the most widely circulated coins in the world. This is because the Greek currency has existed long before the formation of Greece as we know today. The drachma was used in the world during the time of Alexander the Great. He was the Macedonian who conquered Greece and went on to conquer most of the ancient world. Famously Alexander was highly educated having been tutored by the philosopher Aristotle from an early age. His conquests entirely changed the political geography of the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

His conquests into the middle east also ensured the drachma was used in what is now modern-day Iran. It influenced the Arabic unit of currency also, what we call the Dirham today was inspired by the drachma. And the dirham is still used in several modern-day Arabic countries such as Morocco or the United Arab Emirates.

All modern drachmas since it was reintroduced into Greece in 1832, have, unfortunately, ended quite terribly. You could argue the period before the Euro was implemented in 2001 was relatively okay, but Greece and its currency was already dangerously in debt by that period. The worst ever period for the drachma was during World War II, here Greece found themselves being ruled by a Nazi-Fascist occupied government who mismanaged their monetary policies completely. At one point they were issuing 100,000,000,000 drachma notes.

However the currency the drachma has a much richer history than just several modern-day failures. When it was first created, it was used in Ancient Greece by several city-states. And they enjoyed the currency stability it provided them for over ten centuries. Historians believe the drachma was used and circulated as a currency from the Archaic period up until the Roman period.

Drachma is believed to mean grasp, and researchers think that it was called drachma to mean a handful. And it was the standard unit of silver coinage at most of the ancient Greek mints, they also used the term obol which was a term to describe one-sixth of a drachma. Each city would generally stamp their badge onto the coins produced in their mints, and there were exact exchange values between each city’s coins also. This was determined by the reputation of each mint, by the quantity and quality of the metal used.

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