Administration and Bureaucracy
The economy of Athens was supervised by numerous boards of officials in charge of the mint, the marketplace, weights and measures, and the grain and water supplies. Most of these officials held office in or near the Agora, where so much of the city's commercial activity took place.
One function of the Tholos was to serve as a repository for official weights and measures under the supervision of the inspectors, the metronomoi. According to ancient sources, sets of official weights and measures were kept in Athens as well as at Piraeus and Eleusis.
Many small weights, mostly of lead but also of bronze, have been found in and around the Agora. Some may belong to the primary sets kept permanently in the Tholos, but many are probably duplicates made for issue to officials and perhaps shopkeepers. They have been found scattered over a wide area, as if they had been used in the market or shops.
Official measures come in clay and bronze and were used both for dry goods (nuts, grain) and for liquids (wine, oil). Dry measures normally had a cylindrical or mug-like form; liquid measures, much less abundant, were in the shapes of jugs, amphoras, or other vessels. Clay measures were found concentrated around the Tholos.
Large deposits of silver from mines at Laureion in South Attica provided Athens with abundant coinage admired for its purity and used throughout the Mediterranean. The coin type was appropriate to Athens and easily recognizable: on one side the helmeted head of Athena, patroness of the city, on the other side her sacred symbols, the owl and olive sprig. These figures were used for centuries with only the slightest changes. The coins were struck in a wide variety of multiples or fractions of the basic unit, the drachma, which was roughly a day's wage. This silver coinage, which probably began in the 6th century B.C., continued to be minted for some 500 years.