Definitions for obolˈɒb əl

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word obol

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  1. Obol

    The obol was an ancient silver coin. In Classical Athens, there were six obols to the drachma; it could be exchanged for eight chalkoi. Two obols made a diobol, weighing around 1.41-1.43 grams of silver. Triobols were also in use. In English, the coin is usually called an obol, another name for a halfpenny. An obelískos is a "small obol", called so in jest because of its huge size. According to Plutarch, the Spartans had an iron obolus of four chalkoi. Sparta chose to retain the use of the cumbersome, impractical "oboloi" rather than coins proper, so as to discourage the pursuit of wealth. The obolus is also a measurement of weight. In ancient Greece it was defined as one sixth of a drachma, or about 0.5 gram. In ancient Rome it was defined as 1/48 of a Roman ounce, or about 0.57 gram, but was never issued as a coin as part of the early republican coinage system. Below the drachm was the dupondius to the quartuncia. In modern Greece it is equivalent to one decigram, or 0.1 gram. The word "obolos", also "obelos" or "odelos" in other dialects, means a long thin metal nail or rod, such as a spit. "Oboloi" were used as currency in early times. They represented small ingots of copper or bronze of standardized weight, and were traded as such. The French archaeologist T. Reinach defined them as "ustensiles monnais" i.e. utensils-money. During excavations at Argos in the Peloponnese, several dozens of rod-shaped oboloi were uncovered. They are dated well before 800 BC and they are displayed at the Numismatic Museum of Athens.


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