Brief History of Ancient Indian Coins


1. On the basis of archaeological sources, it is estimated that coins first came into circulation in the Greek cities of Western Asia around the 7th century BC.

2. ‘Nishka’ and ‘Shataman’ mentioned in Vedic texts were also used as coins in the Vedic period. 3. Metal coins first came into use in India during the time of Gautam Buddha, whose time is believed to be around 500 BC.

4. The coins found during the time of Buddha were called ‘Punch Marked’ coins. These coins had shapes of trees, fish, bull, elephant, half moon etc. These coins are mostly made of silver and some of copper.

5. The oldest hoard of struck coins has been found from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Magadha.

6. In the Maurya period, ‘Nishka’ and ‘Suvarna’ were used in the form of gold coins, ‘Karshapan’ or ‘Suvarna’ in the form of silver coins.

‘Dharan’, ‘Mapak’ and ‘Kakan’ were used as copper coins. 7. Indian Greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India.

8. Gold coins were first issued on a large scale by the Kushan ruler Kadphisus II.

9. Kanishka issued copper coins in large quantities.

10. In the post-Maurya period, gold Nishka, Suvarna and Pal, silver Shataman and copper Kakini coins were in circulation. 11. ‘Karshapan’ coin was made from a mixture of four metals: gold, silver, copper and lead. 12. Maximum number of gold coins were issued during the Gupta period but their purity was less as compared to the coins of earlier Kushans.

13. Gold coins of the Gupta period were called ‘Dinar’. Cowries were used in daily transactions.

14. The gold coins of the Kushan period were of 124 grains and the gold coins of the Gupta period were of 144 grains. 15. Most of the coins made of gold, silver, copper, pewter and bronze were issued in the post-Maurya period. 16.Gold coins went out of circulation between 650 AD and 1000 AD.

17. Some coins of Pratihara rulers are found in the 9th century. ‘Gadhaiya coins’ were found in western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat between the 7th century and the 11th century. Agnivedika is depicted on these coins.

18. On the lines of Dramma copper coins of Greek rulers, Pratihara and Pala rulers issued silver ‘Dramma’ coins.

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