Sources of Ancient Indian History (Part-5) for Competitive Exams 2019

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Complete Video at – Die- Struck Indo-Greek coins: Sources of Ancient Indian History (Ancient History)

  • Uninscribed cast coins : Uninscribed cast coins made of copper or alloys of copper appeared soon after the punch-marked coins.

  • They have been found in most parts of the subcontinent expect the far south.

  • Some types have a fairly wide distribution, while others (such as those found at Ayodhya and Kaushambi, which seem to have been issued in the late 3rd or early 2nd century BCE) have a more restricted range of circulation.

  • These coins were made by melting metal and pouring it into clay or metal moulds.

  • Clay moulds have in fact been found at many sites and a bronze mould was found at Eran in central India.

  • The discovery of punch-marked and uninscribed cast coins in the same archaeological level at some early historical sites indicates that they overlapped in time.

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Silver Punch- Marked Coin of Magadha; Uninscribed Cast Copper Coin of Indo - Greek King Demetrius

Image of Silver Punch- Marked Coin of Magadha

Image of Silver Punch- Marked Coin of Magadha

Image of Silver Punch- Marked Coin of Magadha

Die-Struck Coins

  • The symbols, some similar to those on the punch-marked coins, were struck onto coin blanks with metal dies that were carefully carved with the required designs.

  • The minting of such coins may have begun in about the 4th century BCE and they have been found in large numbers at sites such as Taxila and Ujjain.

Die- Struck Indo-Greek Coins :

  • The next stage in the history of Indian coinage is marked by the die-struck Indo-Greek coins of the 2nd/ 1st century BCE.

  • These are very well executed, usually round (a few are square or rectangular) and mostly in silver (a few are in copper, billion, [a silver- copper alloy, nickel, and lead]).

  • They bear the name and portrait of the issuing rulers on the obverse. Coins of Menander and Strabo I show them slowly aging from teenagers to old men, indicating their long reigns.

  • Coins issued jointly by kings reflect the practice of conjoint rule.

  • The reverse of the coins usually had religious symbols.

  • The Indo-Greek issued bilingual and bi-script coins, the name of the issuer appearing on the obverse in Greek and on the reverse in Prakrit language in the Kharoshthi script.

  • Coins of the Shakas, Parthains, and Kshatrapas follow the basic features of Indo-Greek coinage, and include bilingual and bi-script issues.

Kushana Coins:

  • The Kushanas (1st-4th centuries CE) were the first dynasty of the subcontinent to mint large quantities of gold coin; their silver coins are rare.

  • They also issued many copper coins of low denominational value, which indicates the increasing spread of the money economy.

  • Kushana coins have the figure, name, and title of the king on the obverse.

  • On the reverse are deities belonging to the Brahmanical , Buddhist, Greek , Roman, and other pantheons. The legends are either entirely in Greek, or in some cases in Kharoshthi on the reverse.

Gold Coin of Kushana King Vima Kadphises; Gold Coin of Gupta King Kumaragupta I

Image of Gold Coin of Kushana King Vima Kadphises

Image of Gold Coin of Kushana King Vima Kadphises

Image of Gold Coin of Kushana King Vima Kadphises

Indigenous, Tribal, Janapada Coins

  • A number of coin types ranging from the 3rd century BCE to the 4th century CE, referred by numismatists as indigenous, tribal , janapada, or local coins, which forms an important source of information on the history of the dynasties of northern and central India.

  • These coins are mostly cast or die-struck in copper or bronze, but there are some silver coins and a few rare examples of ones in lead and potin.

  • They include those issued by chieftains, kings, and non-monarchial states such as the Arjunayanas, Uddehikas , Malvas , and Yadhudheyas.

  • There are also coins bearing the name of cities such as Tripuri, Uddehikas, Malavas, and Yaudheyas.

  • There are also coins bearing the names of cities such as Tripuri, Ujjayini, Kaushambi, Vidisha, Airikina, Mahishmati, Madhyamika, Varanasi, and Taxila, presumably issued by the administration of these cities.

  • Certain Taxila coins with the legend pancha-nekame may have been issued jointly by five guilds.

Pre- Satavahana

  • In the Deccan, the pre-Satavahana coinage was followed by the copper and silver coins of the Satavahana kings, Rulers of this dynasty also issued coins of small denominational value made of lead and potin.

  • Most Satavahana coins were die-struck, but there are some cast coins, and a combination of techniques was also used.

  • The legends were generally in the Prakrit language and Brahmi script.

  • However, the portrait coins (mostly in silver, but also in lead) use Dravidian language and Brahmi script.

  • Punch- marked coins continued to circulate alongside the Satavahana.

Kshatarapa and Nahpana

  • There was a greater demand for silver currency in the western Deccan, perhaps due to commercial reasons.

  • The Kshatarapa ruler Nahpana introduced a silver currency in the Nasik area.

  • Roman gold coins also flowed into peninsular India in large quantities in the early centuries CE and may have been used as a medium of exchange for large scale transactions or as currency reserves and capital deposits.

  • Locally made imitations of Roman gold coins have also been found.

  • So, in the early centuries CE in the western Deccan, there was a co-existence of Satavahana, Kshatrapa , punch-marked and Roman coins.

  • Currencies of the western Deccan also flowed into the eastern Deccan.

Image of Silver coin of Nahapana

Image of Silver Coin of Nahapana

Image of Silver coin of Nahapana

Q1. When did Uninscribed cast coins came into existence?

  1. During Rig Vedic period

  2. After punch mark coins

  3. During Later Vedic period

  4. After gold coins of Guptas

Ans (i)

Q2. The minting of Die-Struck Coins began in which century in India?

  1. 1st century BCE

  2. 2nd century BCE

  3. 3rd century BCE

  4. 4th century BCE

Ans. (iv)

Q3. The coins of which two rulers shows them ageing from teenagers to old men?

  1. Menander and Strabo, I

  2. Alexander and Strabo, I

  3. Menander and Alexander

  4. Vim Kadphises and Kumargupta I

Ans. (i)

Q4. Which of the following was the first dynasty of the subcontinent to mint large quantities of gold coins?

  1. Guptas

  2. Kushanas

  3. Satvahanas

  4. Kshatarapa

Ans. (ii)

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