I am doing a project on Mesopotamia and have stumbled upon their currency system. They have Gerahs, Shekels and Minas. These units of currency are referred to by their laws, yet I can only find pictures of the Shekel on google images. The other coins only come from other civilizations. So my question is did Mesopotamia have physical coins to represent Gerahs and Minas or were they just measure of weight?

  • 2
    Note that coin names and weights are basically refering to the same data. I mean IIRC strucking the coins was originally meant as a proof that the coin contained the fixed amount of bullion (so you probably would have the same unit as coin and weight, like -much later- the Sterling pound)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 18:39
  • I would be very cautious - almost every country has discovered the joy of debasing currency. weight is not the same as value except in rare circumstances. (debasing is the way to do inflation with specie, and inflation is the perfect tax - a way to raise money without voting for a tax.)
    – MCW
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


If with Mesopotamia you mean the ancient civilisations in Babylonia and Assyria before the Persian conquest (that is: before 535 BC), then we need to say that there were no coins at all. In a Mesopotamian context, a shekel is a unit of weight, not a struck coin. The first coins in the world were minted in Lydia around 600 BC. In Babylonia, coins began to circulate during the Persian (Achaemenid) period.

  • It's not as certain as you make it sound.
    – John Dee
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 18:49

The only Babylonian coins known and recovered are shekels. The minah was a unit of weight. I have not heard of the gerah being used in a Babylonian context. The Babylonian practice was to put silver pieces in a linen bag and then seal the bag and stamp it with an official weight.

  • Which period are you talking about?
    – fdb
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 12:18

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