My question is simple, "what was the value of a thousand talents in Roman Palestine about AD 33?"

It is my impression that a thousand talents would have been a vast amount of wealth for that time. Is that correct?

Added 04-15-2021.

And just for fun, here is a link to a similar question:


  • One thousand Talents was the amount wagered by Sheik IIderim, at 4 to 1 odds, that Judah Ben Hur would beat Messala at the Circus in the chariot race in the movie " Ben Hur." Dec 13 '20 at 14:38
  • The value of 1,000 talents was whatever it would buy. There is no international standard of value; unlike kilograms, there is no international standard of value. That said, your second paragraph is the right question.
    – MCW
    Dec 13 '20 at 18:55
  • @Tim Whiteside Ben-hur is why I asked the question.
    – MAGolding
    Apr 15 at 18:22
  • If you're curious, the "membership dues" (more appropriately, the tribute to Athens) owed by each city in the Delian League was expressed in talents. Look those amounts up to get a sense of scale.
    – C Monsour
    Apr 15 at 18:26
  • Since "Talents" is an unit of weight rather than value, then this question asks for clarification "of what": 1000 talents of gold has a different value (a few billions $) than 1000 talents of rye grain (probably in the ballpark of thousands of $) or 1000 talents of sand (worth probably nothing).
    – Yasskier
    Apr 18 at 22:20

Yes, it was an enormous amount of money. Wikipedia tells us a talent was the weight of a man (or roughly 50 kg) in gold. It also states that 6000 talents, which is the bribe paid by king Auletes of Egypt to become king of Egypt to Julius Caesar, was worth $8,400,699,422.80 today. So 1000 talents would be well over a billion dollars today.

  • 6000 talents would correspond to about 300 tons of gold. I don't think there even was that much gold in existence in nice gold bars in the time of the Roman empire. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_metallurgy puts the annual production of the Roman empire at 9 tons.
    – quarague
    Feb 11 '20 at 14:46
  • True, but this goes for our economy as well. I doubt very much if even 20% of our currency can be converted into real gold. Probably a lot less.
    – Jos
    Feb 11 '20 at 23:49
  • Today that amount of gold would be at least possible. For example Fort Knox holds 4500 tons of gold, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bullion_Depository. So 300 tons of gold is a quantity that could at least in theory be paid or transferred. Only a tiny proprotion of money in circulation could be converted to gold (much smaller than 20%, I would guess more like 0.1%) but that is a different question.
    – quarague
    Feb 12 '20 at 7:52

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