Mina (unit)

The mina (also mĕnē, Aramaic; Hebrew: מנה)[lower-alpha 1] is an ancient Near Eastern unit of weight, which was divided into 60 shekels. The mina, like the shekel, was also a unit of currency. In ancient Greece, it originally equalled 70 drachmae and later was increased to 100 drachmae.[1] The Greek word mna (μνᾶ) was borrowed from Semitic; compare Hebrew māneh, Aramaic mĕnē, Syriac manyā, Ugaritic mn, and Akkadian manū. However, before it was used as currency, a mina was a unit of measurement, equal to 1.25 pounds (0.57 kg).

From earliest Sumerian times, a mina was a unit of weight. At first, talents and shekels had not yet been introduced. By the time of Ur-Nammu, the mina had a value of 1/60 talents as well as 60 shekels. The value of the mina is calculated at 1.25 pounds (0.57 kg)[2][3].

Evidence from Ugarit indicates that a mina was equivalent to fifty shekels.[4] The prophet Ezekiel refers to a mina ('maneh' in the King James Version) as sixty shekels, in the Book of Ezekiel 45:12. Jesus of Nazareth tells the "parable of the minas" in Luke 19:11-27. In Jewish usage, the maneh is equal in weight to 100 denarius.[5]

From the Akkadian period, 2 mina was equal to 1 sila of water (cf. clepsydra, water clock).

The Greek mina

The Aeginetan mina weighed 623.7 g.[6]

The Attic mina weighed 436.6 g.[7]

Purchasing power

  • The price for a slave in Plautus' Pseudolus (191 BCE) was 20 minæ; one mina being, according to the commentator writing in 1912, "about US$18.05, or £3 14s. 4d."[8] $18.05 USD in 1912 would be equivalent to approximately $470 USD in 2019[9][10]
  • In the first century AD [in Greece?], it amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker.

Images

Notes

  1. In the Hebrew tradition, a maneh had always the weight of 100 silver denarii.

References

  1. Aristotle (unknown date). Constitution of the Athenians, 10.2.
  2. Edwards, Tom. "Bible Weights, Measures, and Monetary Values", SpiritRestoration.org at the Wayback Machine (archived 21 January 2012). Calculation of weight by number of shekels.
  3.  Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Money". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  4. Tenney, Merril ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, "Weights and Measures," Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976.
  5. Maimonides (1974). Sefer Mishneh Torah - HaYad Ha-Chazakah (Maimonides' Code of Jewish Law) (in Hebrew). 4 (Seder Avodah). Jerusalem: Pe'er HaTorah., s.v. Hil. Kelei HaMikdash 2:3
  6. Oleson (1998), p. 764
  7. Oleson (1998), p. 764
  8. Perseus Project Ps.1.3
  9. "US Inflation Calculator". US Inflation Calculator. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  10. "The Inflation Calculator". westegg.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.

Bibliography

  • Oleson, John Peter (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199720149.
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