When Alexander the Great expanded his power from Macedonia and Greece to Egypt, Persia and India, he was bound to make a lot of money. The sheer size of the treasures he amassed, however, is simply baffling.
All of the gold and silver that Alexander captured is usually measured in talents. A talent is a tricky measurement that can often vary widely depending on the source. Sometimes, a talent is noted to be around 25.8 kilograms (56.9 pounds) of weight, but in other sources a talent is approximately 50 kilograms (110 pounds). Either way, a single talent is estimated to be worth nearly 6,000 days of wages to the average skilled worker in Alexander the Great’s day.
By the time Alexander had taken Egypt and pushed deep into the Persian Empire, he had already looted around 80,000 talents of gold and silver. His greatest prize, however, was found when Alexander seized the city of Persepolis, the capital city of Persia and the location of Persia’s royal treasury. In that one city, Alexander won himself a further 120,000 talents of gold and silver. Once Alexander the Great had captured Persepolis, he had gathered around 200,000 talents of precious metals, netting him an unbelievable amount of gold and silver that equates to around $1.6 trillion modern U.S. dollars in his first three years as king of Macedonia.
Written by C. Keith Hansley.
- Alexander the Great: The Story Of An Ancient Life, by Thomas R. Martin and Christopher W. Blackwell. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.