Gold Coins

Patrick Olivelle jpo at UTS.CC.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Aug 7 14:40:57 UTC 2003


Sorry if this reaches you twice through Indology and ScholarlyServices.

I have a question regarding the earliest issuance of gold coins in
India. My expertise in numismatics is non-existent, but I hope there
will be some among you out there in cyberspace who can throw some
light on this (preferably with some biblio references). I gather from
some experts that the earliest extant cold coins in India (that is
coins that have been found by archaeologists) goes back only to the
Kushana period. Do you know of any that go further back?

And are there any unambiguous references to gold coins in literature
from an earlier period? The mere mention of hiranya or suvarna may
not mean much, because the terms may simply refer to gold, gold
ornaments, precious substances, etc. The Arthasastra does not seem to
have any unambiguous reference to gold coins; in fact gold minting is
not mentioned in its section on minting. Manu has several unambiguous
references to gold coins (see 8.213, 361, possible  also 8.393 gold
masaka) coins. If we can pin down the issue of gold coins in
archaeology, then may be this could be one factor in determing the
age of a text.

Thank you for your help.

Patrick Olivelle

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