In the year 440 BC, more than two decades into the reign of Pericles, an audit of treasury in Athens showed a massive surplus of more than 9700 “talents”.
A talent was a common unit of measurement in the ancient world, especially for gold and silver, and, based on today’s precious metals prices and the traditional gold/silver ratio (14:1) used by the ancient Greeks, 9700 talents is equivalent to about $700 million today.
At the time, Athens boasted a population of around 43,000 citizens and 28,500 foreign residents… so on a “per capita” basis, the ancient Athenian surplus amounted to just under $10,000 per person in today’s money.
If you compare this figure to our modern world, it’s pretty extraordinary. (Continue to full posting…)