Sources of Ancient Indian History Part-5 for NTSE 2020

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Complete Video at – Numismatics: Part-IV - Sources of Ancient Indian History (Indian History)


  • The study of coins is known as Numismatics.

  • Numismatics includes the analysis of the material out of which coins were made; the identification of the sources of the metals; the classification and study of the form of coins on the basis of their fabric (size, shape, thickness, design, workmanship); metrology (weight); designs; metallic composition; techniques of manufacture, and message content.

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  • Metrology: Metrology the measurement and arrangement of coins by weight.

  • Mint town: Mint towns can be identified by sites where large number of coin moulds have been found.

A Brief History of Indian Coinage

  • Stone Age: Stone age people had neither currency nor coinage and conducted exchange via barter.

  • Chalcolithic culture: Chalcolithic cultures too conducted trade without the use of coins.

  • Indus Valley Civilization: The Harappans had a very extensive trade network based on barter.

  • Rig Veda: The Rig Veda mentions words such as nishka and and nishka-griya (gold ornaments), and Hiranya- panda (gold globules), but these cannot be understood as coins.

  • Later Vedic: Later Vedic texts use terms such as nishka, Suvarna, shatamana, and pada. These may have been metal pieces of definite weights, nor necessary full-fledged coins.

  • The earliest definite literary and archaeological evidence of coinage in the Indian subcontinent dates from the 6th -5th centuries BCE in a context of the emergence of states, urbanization, and expanding trade.

  • Buddhist texts and the Ashtadhyayi refer to words such as kahapana/ karshapana , nikkha/nishka, shatamana, pada, vimshatika, trinshatika, and savanna/ suvarna. The basic unit of Indian coin weight systems was a red-and- black seed of the gunja berry (Abrus precatorius ) known as the ratika, ratti , or rati.

  • In South India, the standard weight of coins was theoretically calculated on the basis of the relationship between two kinds of beans—the manjadi (Odenathera pavonina) and the kalanju (Caesalpinia bonduc).

  • The advent of coinage did not mean the disappearance of bater- both co-existed for a very long time.

  • Punch Marked Coins: The oldest coins found in the subcontinent are punch-marked coins, made mostly of silver, some of copper. They are usually rectangular, sometimes square or round.

  • These coins are often irregular in shape; their corners sometimes snipped off to adjust their weight.

  • Most of the silver punch-marked coins weighed 32 rattis or about 56 grains.

  • Punch marked coins are found all over the subcontinent , and continued to circulate in many places till the early centuries CE, with a longer period of circulation in peninsular India.

Image of Punch Marked Coins

Image of Punch Marked Coins

Image of Punch Marked Coins

Image of Punch Marked Coins

Image of Punch Marked Coins

Image of Punch Marked Coins

  • Punch marked coins of the northern India can be divided into four main series on the basis of their area of circulation—

  • the Taxila –Gandhara type of the north-west coins were having a heavy weight standard and multiple punch marks;

  • the Avanti type of western India were with a light weight standard and single punch marks;

  • and Magadhan type were with a light weight standard and multiple punches.

  • Changes in coinage pattern mirrored political changes.

  • With the expansion of the Magadhan Empire, the Magadhan type of punch-marked coins came to replace those of other states.

  • Symbols on these coins include geometric designs, plants, animals, the sun, wheel , mountain, tree (including tree-in-railing), branches and man figure.

  • Some symbols may have had a religious or political importance, but their precise significance is not always certain. The coins often have primary and secondary punch marks.

Q1. Which of the following statement is correct regarding numismatics?

  1. Numismatics is the study of coins

  2. Numismatics is the study of inscriptions

  3. Numismatics is the study of pictures

  4. Numismatics is the study of paintings

Ans. (i)

Q2. Which of the following is/are types of punch-mark coins?

  1. Gupta type coins

  2. Kosala type coins

  3. Avanti type coins

  4. Magadha type coins

Choose the correct option:

  1. (i), (ii) and (iii)

  2. (ii) and (iii)

  3. (i), (ii)

  4. (ii), (iii), (iv)

Ans. D


#Ancient Indian History

#Indian History


#Sources of History



#Taxila-Gandharatype Coins

#Avantitype Coin

#Magadhatype Coin

#Kosalatype Coin

#Vedic Coins

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