Author Topic: South Asian early medieval coinage and coin production technique  (Read 608 times)

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Offline Andromeda

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Hello!

This is in the context of South Asian early medieval coinage and coin production techniques.

If a hoard contains some coins with irregular the flan (shape of the coin is irregular) but consistent in metrology, design, and style with the other coins in that hoard, does it mean that these irregularly shaped coins belong to a different mint?
It'll be really great to have some pointers (based on fabric, die axis, etc) to differentiate products of different mints if a mintmark is absent.

Thanks!

Online Figleaf

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Re: South Asian early medieval coinage and coin production technique
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2020, 08:50:18 AM »
Your question is a bit general, so my reaction will be the same.

Normally, medieval coins were cast or struck. Cast coins are normally quite round. The flans for striking must be hard enough to survive the strike. Very often, that means they are made of molten metal, struck before they are completely cool or they are hammered out of plates of metal. Since you are talking about South Asia, I will assume the former. The coins are not struck in a collar, so the shape of the flans depends on a) the shape of the molten metal before striking b) the temperature of the metal during the strike and c) the force and direction of the strike.

Usually, the molten metal is poured on a stone or wooden platform to cool off. The natural form of the molten metal would be round, but if the platform is irregular, the liquid metal will reflect the shape of the cooling platform. The last coin struck with a batch of metal may suffer from metal shortage and being too cool. When the flan has cooled, it is picked up with thongs. If the metal is still too hot, the thong may squeeze the coin into a pear form of irregular thickness. When the coin is struck, a flan that is too cold will crack. The force of the strike should be divided evenly over the flan. If the upper die is slightly tilted, the strike will be uneven and the flan will look slightly oval.

In some mints, metal came in rolls or rods that would be sliced, like a sausage. If the rod was rolled with metal that was too cold, it would tend to become squarish. Filing the coin to the desired weight could also result in odd shapes. However, you will find these effects much more on more recent coins.

You will understand that all the above depends on the experience of the minters and other mint workers and how much they are under pressure to produce coins. There is therefore no straightforward link between shape and mint.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 11:10:19 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Andromeda

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Re: South Asian early medieval coinage and coin production technique
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2020, 12:30:29 AM »
Many thanks for your scholarly input on the coin production technique, Peter!