Numismatics - Study of Coins in Chronological order

February 9, 2018

Why Important???


Numismatics keep emerging in prelims papers every few years and thus cannot be ignored by serious aspirants. 


Prelims question.

1. The silver coins issued by Guptas were called:(1997)

       a) Rupaka.       b) Karshapana    c) Dinara.    d) Pana


2. What is the correct chronological order in which of the following appeared in India? (1998)

        1) Gold Coins.    2) Punch marked silver coins. 

        3) Iron Plough.  4) Urban culture


        a) 3,4,1,2.          b) 3,4,2, 1.       c) 4,3,1,2.      d) 4,3,2,1   


3. The king who represented in his coins as playing veena

        a) Chandragupta II.   b) Kumara gupta.  

        c) Samudragupta.     d) Chandragupta I


Mains question.


1. How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of Gupta numismatic art is not at all noticeable in later times? (2017)









  1. Earliest coins appear in Lydia in West Asia in 700 BCE.

  2. Panini's Ashtadhyayi refers to use of coins in 6th-5th century BCE.

  3. Gunja berry known as ratti seeds were initially used as coins.

  4. Punch Marked Coins:


    1. Made of silver and some of copper.

    2. North Indian Punch marked coins can be divided into 4 main series:

      1. Taxila-Gandhara type : Heavy weight standard and single punch mark.

      2. Kosala type: Heavy weight standard and multiple punch marks.

      3. Avanti type: Light weight standard and single punch mark.

      4. Magadha type: Light weight standard and multiple punch marks.

    3. Symbols on these coins

      1. Geometric designs

      2. Plants

      3. Animals

      4. Sun

      5. Wheel

      6. Mountain

      7. Tree

      8. Branches

      9. Human Figures

  5. Un-inscribed cast coins: Made of Copper or alloys of copper.

  6. Uninscribed Die-struck coins:

    1. Found in large numbers at Taxila and Ujjain.

  7. Die-struck Indo-Greek coins: 2nd/1st century BCE.


    1. Mostly silver, but also found copper, billon (silver copper alloy), nickel and lead coins.

    2. These are Bilingual and bi-script coins.

      1. Language: Greek(obverse) and Prakrit(reverse).

      2. Script: Greek and Kharoshthi.

    3. Coins of Shakas, Parthians and Kshatrapas follow the basic features of Indo-Greek coinage.

  8. Kushans

    1. First to mint large quantity of Gold coins. Their silver coins are rare.

    2. Title of the king on the obverse.

    3. Deities belonging to Brahmanical, Buddhist, Greek, Roman and other pantheons are there on reverse side.

    4. Legend is either entirely in Greek or in Kharoshthi on the reverse.

  9. Taxila coins with the legend Panch-nekame were issued by five guilds.

  10. Satvahanas coins:

    1. Die-struck coins

    2. Legends in the prakrit and Brahmi script mostly. At some place coins with legend in Dravidian language and Brahmi script also found.

  11. Kshatrapa:

    1. Ruler Nahapana issued silver currency in Nashik area.

    2. These coins give dates in the Shaka era.

  12. Double carp fish (symbol of Pandya) was found printed on coins found at Bodinaikkanur near Madurai.

  13. Legend Valuti is assigned to Pandyas.

  14. Silver coins with the portrait of Chera king and legend Makkotai have been found in the Krishna riverbed near Karur. These also contain the legend Kuttuvan Kotai and Kollippurai along with Chera symbols of bow and arround and the double fish and tiger.

  15. Guptas:

    1. Die-struck gold coins called Dinaras.

    2. Legend in Sanskrit.

    3. Obverse depict king in various poses.

    4. Samudragupta and Kumargupta I are shown playing Vina.

    5. Some Gupta silver coins give regnal years of King

    6. There is a decline in the metallic purity of gold coins in the later part of Skandagupta's reign.

  16. Lead coins were issued by Ikshavakus of the Krishna valley.

  17. Cowrie use was also observed in North India along with billon coins.

  18. Krishna and Balaram appear on 2nd century BCE coins of the Indo-Greek king Agathocles at Ai-Khanoum (in Afghanistan)


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