Mina (unit)

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The mina (also mna, Greek μνᾶ) (Hebrew: מנה)[1] is an ancient Near Eastern unit of weight, which was divided into 60 (50) 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.[2] The Greek word mna was borrowed from Semitic; compare Hebrew māneh, Aramaic mĕnē, Syriac manyā, Ugaritic mn, and Akkadian manū.

In folk language used by sailors, the word mina or mines came to mean "mines", indicating mineral resources extracted from the ground.

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[3][4] or 0.571 kilograms per mina (18.358 troy ounces).

Evidence from Ugarit indicates that a mina was equivalent to fifty shekels.[5] The prophet Ezekiel refers to a mina ('maneh' in the King James Version) as sixty shekels.[6] Jesus of Nazareth tells the "parable of the minas" in Luke 19:11-27.

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

Purchasing power[edit]

  • The price for a slave in Plautus' Pseudolus was 20 minæ; one mina being, according to the commentator, "about $18.05 or £3 14s. 4d."[7]
  • In the first century AD [in Greece?], it amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker.[citation needed]



  1. ^ In the Hebrew tradition, a maneh had always the weight of 100 silver denarii.
  2. ^ Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 10.2
  3. ^ [1] Calculation of weight by number of shekels.
  4. ^ [2] Jewish Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Tenney, Merril ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, "Weights and Measures," Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976.
  6. ^ Ezekiel 45:12
  7. ^ http://data.perseus.org/citations/urn:cts:latinLit:phi0119.phi016.perseus-eng1:1.3