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Case Study | India Coinage


The study of coins is known as Numismatics. The importance of coins as a source of reconstructing history cannot be denied, particularly in case of ancient history where very few chronicles were produced.

1. Indus Valley Civilization – BC

The Harappan Seal is the most distinctive artefact of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was made of a stone called steatite. However, it’s believed that it was *NOT* used as a coin. It served various other purposes like – sealing a package of trade, as amulets, etc.

2. Janapadas / Mahajanapadas –

The earliest account of issuing of coins dates back to the 7th-6th Century BC. These coins were ‘punched-mark’ coins made in silver. They were initially issued by merchant guilds and later, by the state.

3. Post-Mauryan Period

For the first time, we see regular Dynastic coins being issued.

The Greeks bring along their old age tradition of issuing coins. They are the first ones to issue gold coins(besides the use of Silver).

Greek Coins

It is then followed by the Kushan Empire who become the first Indian Empire to issue gold coins.

Kushan Coins

 

 

The Western Kshatrap coins are reckoned to be the earliest coins bearing dates.

 

3. Gupta Period

The Kushan gold coins subsequently influence Gupta dynasty. They become more rich and elaborate in design depicting a wide variety of events – commemorate dynastic succession, significant socio-political events – like marriage alliances, the horse sacrifice, etc. and for that matter artistic and personal accomplishments of royal members (Lyrist, Archer, Lion-slayer etc.)

We see the decline in the number of coins produced in this phase suggestive of a decline in trade and commerce.

 


References and image credits:

1. Watch an interesting series here –

2. rbi.org.in/currency/museum/c-ancient.html

 

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Siddharth Sodhi

    the guptas issued large number of gold coins which were called dinaras in the inscriptions of the guptas,,though their coins were lesser in purity vis-a-vis that of the kushanas ,even soo their coins were largely used in the transactions of land ,payings higher officials.,they also issued silver coins when the occupied gujarat, but the copper coins issued by the guptas were few in numbers in comparision to the kushanas.

  2. Siddharth Sodhi

    one more point the quality of the gupta gold coins was inferior vis-a-vis the kushanas

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