Author Topic: Gandhara Janapada: Bent Bars from 600 BC  (Read 4321 times)

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Offline mitresh

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Gandhara Janapada: Bent Bars from 600 BC
« on: May 06, 2013, 08:18:09 AM »
Ancient India, Punch Mark Coins, Gandhara Janapada, 600-400 BC, Silver Satamana 'Bent Bar'

These coins from Gandhara Janapada are considered one of the earliest, if not THE earliest, coins of India. It is difficult to pinpoint with certainity the actual Janapada, Dynasty or King that issued coins first in India or the time period as much of the ancient history is obscured in the mists of time. These coins, found in Gandhara of which Taxila was the capital, are also termed as 'Bent Bars' or 'Double Sigloi'. Gandhara was listed as one of the sixteen mahajanapadas in the Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya.

The rock inscriptions of Darius "The Great" (540 BC) indicate Gandhara as the 20th and richest satrapy of the Persian Empire. The peculiar "bent bar" silver coins found in Gandhara with a prominent solar symbol punched on extreme ends of the bar are so radically different from the silver 'sigloi' coins of the Persian Empire featuring the King (or an archer) as sitting/kneeling that it is now commonly accepted that such a radically different coinage in the shape and form of the bent bar would not have been introduced by the Persians for a particular region alone (Gandhara) but that it points to a much earlier existence of the coin type which, for purposes of trade and continuity of tradition, was continued by the Persians. The coins, based on the date of Darius rock inscriptions, are therefore attributed to 600 BC although their origin may have been earlier.

The bent bar coins follow the Satamana (100 ratti) standard with a weight range of approx 11g. The length of the coin ranges from 35-50 mm and the width from 8-20 mm. The coins bear at each end a deeply punched septa-radiate solar symbol with a dot within the central circle with six radiating arms outwards. As the die was bigger than the flan, the die impression is rarely fully visible on the coin.

The bent bars are of various types:
1) Coin 1 on the extreme left is the "broad long" type with a flattened slightly uneven surface
2) Coin 2 & 3 are the "thick medium" type with slight bend and display the best die impressions
3) Coin 4 is the "narrow long" type which is the earliest in the series and relatively scarce/rare
4) Coin 5 on the extreme right is the "thick long" type that displays the maximum curve/bend

Later bent bar issues include the short debased series followed by silver plated and copper issues.

An important coin from Ancient India however it is an ongoing struggle to manage these 'beauties' within the coin flips as they seem to have a mind of their own and the plastic cover keeps getting ripped!
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 10:36:33 AM by mitresh »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Gandhara Janapada: Bent Bars from 600 BC
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2013, 06:30:15 PM »
While we may think of coins being invented one day, it is more likely that they came about in a continuous process, that started with shovels and daggers and went to a few stages before become bars and finally stamped bars. These are clearly coins. The silver must have had a value surpassing that of the tool or bar as the stamping looks like a guarantee of fineness or weight. Whether they were the first coins may be a question of what you define as a coin.

In the central Asian steppes (but also elsewhere in the world), archeologists have found hoards of unfinished metallic weapons and tools. They are usually labelled as an artisan workshop, even when there are no traces of buildings around. Wouldn't it be more likely if some of those hoards were in fact the financial reserves of a travelling merchant? Would we recognise the earliest coins as coins when we see them?

Peter
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 08:34:09 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Abhay

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Re: Gandhara Janapada: Bent Bars from 600 BC
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 02:58:35 AM »
Nice Coins Mitresh.

You can refer to this link for more details on these Silver Bent Bars:

http://www.ancientcoins.ca/gandhara/gandhara.htm

Abhay
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Offline mitresh

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Re: Gandhara Janapada: Bent Bars from 600 BC
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 07:44:30 AM »
Hey Abhay Thanks, thats a great link!
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