World of Coins

Research and reference => Numismatics => Topic started by: Coinsforever on January 30, 2011, 02:53:55 AM

Title: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Coinsforever on January 30, 2011, 02:53:55 AM
Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011

Rediscovering Roman connection through antique coins

Chennai: History can be charming. Fashionable ladies of Roman aristocracy imported peacocks from South India and Sangam poetry reveals the lovely ships of Yavanas (Romans) brought sweet-scented teral (wine).

And Pliny's Natural History, one of the principal Graeco-Roman works dealing with trade, notes: “India, China and the Arabian peninsula take one hundred million sesterces (an ancient Roman coin) from our empire per annum at a conservative estimate: that is what our luxuries and women cost us.”

These Roman coins scattered across South India, have gradually found their home in Government Museum, Chennai, where a special exhibition of Roman coins and other antiquities found in South India is on.

The Romans came to India in search of gemstones, silk, cotton, ivory, peacocks and spices, especially pepper and cardamom. In return, India obtained coral, wine, olive oil and metals such as gold, silver and copper from Rome, mostly in the form of coins and medals, says S. Suresh, State Convenor, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The government museum has the largest and richest Roman collection outside Europe, says T.S. Sridhar, Commissioner of Museums. The most unusual feature of Roman coins found in India is the slash marks, generally 1 to 2 mm long effected by a knife or a chisel or a file, as found in Pudukottai and Soriyapattu in the State. Yet another characteristic is the countermarks on some of the coins of which over a 1000 coins have been found at Budhinathan near Udumalpet.

“The commercial, cultural and romantic links lasted for several centuries without any break,” said Angela Trezza, director, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, inaugurating the exhibition. The Italian Embassy was consistently trying to promote awareness of the ancient trade ties between Rome and South India, she added.

“The cultural cross-fertilisation in antiquity has not percolated into school text books,” says Suresh.

Sangam poetry has quite a few references. Purananuru details the Malabar port of Muziri where Yavanas paid in gold for pepper; Manimekalai reveals that the Yavanas helped to build the splendid city of Kaveripattinam and there is a mention of a Yavana settlement in Silapadhikaram.

In the verses of Perumpanatrupadai and Nedunalvadai, there are observations about Yavana lamp with a steady flame without a flicker, something similar to paavai vilakku found in many houses till this day. Ancient Roman coins were used as jewellery as discovered in Soriyapattu hoard, resembling the presentday ‘kaasu maalai'.

Source :The Hindu (
Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Figleaf on January 30, 2011, 10:20:55 AM
For more infoemation on the Romans and present-day India, there is a good article here ( Don't forget to read the comments. Below is a map of the principal trade routes, showing how the Romans got around the Parthian empire, their arch-enemy.

Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Coinsforever on January 31, 2011, 03:16:38 PM
Thanks for interesting article highlighting the history of Roman trading with Indians.

Cheers  ;D
Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Figleaf on February 02, 2011, 12:59:32 PM
Of life on a Sangam coin
M T Saju, TNN, Feb 2, 2011

CHENNAI: When the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology (DAHA) of the University of Madras conducted a workshop on "Archaeological reflections of culture and civilisation of Tamils" for students from various colleges in the city on Monday, a wealth of interesting trivia about coins in the Sangam period (300 BC to 300 AD) came to light.

"There are at least 1000 different symbols embossed on coins from that period," said retired professor of University of Madras, P Shanmugam. Students were keen to know why certain symbols such as elephant, sun and mountain, appeared more often than others. "The symbols must have reflected day to day life. Objects that powerfully represented daily life were embossed more often than others on coins," said Shanmugam.

Given the available technology during that period, it was a challenge to emboss symbols on a 2-cm square punch-marked coin of the Sangam Pandyas. "There are at least five symbols on a single coin. This speaks volumes about the artistic creativity of an ancient society," he said.

When you examine each coin carefully, you will be able to decipher how they were transformed depending on usage and demand. "Punch-marked coins actually come from the pre-Mouria period (before emperor Ashoka). The Chera, Chola, Pandyas of the Sangam period used it. Initially, they printed each symbol separately, but as the demand increased they started printing the symbols together on coins using a single mold," the retired professor explained. Most Sangam period coins, excavated from various parts of Tamil Nadu, were made of copper. There are some silver coins, but gold coins have not been found so far. Some coins even had legends in ancient Tamil Brahmi embossed on them.

In Tami Nadu, the Amaravati bed of Karur is where coins from the Sangam period as well as from countries like Egypt and Rome were mostly found. "Coins from the Sangam period were found in Sri Lanka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Amaravati river bed is a treasure house of coins, not only from the Sangam period, but from different parts of the world, like Egypt and Rome. This shows that global trade existed even in those days.

"Foreign scholars had argued that coin transactions did not exist during the Sangam period, but now we have enough proof that negates this belief," said head of DAHA, P D Balaji.

Source: Times of India (
Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Coinsforever on February 02, 2011, 02:21:33 PM
Similar article (,8569.0.html) posted on 30 Jan 2011

I believe some research project being carried out at Chennai University now a days.


Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Figleaf on March 20, 2011, 01:35:57 AM
Gold coin of Roman era retrieved
TNN, Mar 18, 2011

HYDERABAD: A gold coin said to be belonging to the Roman era and issued by the VIIth Roman emperor, Nero Caesar, was retrieved by the state archaeology department during their recent excavations at the Buddhist site in Phanigiri, Nalgonda district. The coin, weighing about 7.3 grams, was unearthed along with a handful of teracotta figurines, stucco images, beads made of conches and some precious stones.

"It is for the first time that a Roman gold coin has been recovered from a Buddhist site in Andhra Pradesh," said P Chenna Reddy, director, department of archaeology and museums, in a press release issued on Thursday. Reddy stated that in the past too several antiques have been retrieved from Phanigiri, which includes stupas, coins and silver artefacts.

Source: Times of India (
Title: Re: Indian museums hold Roman coins found in India
Post by: Coinsforever on March 20, 2011, 04:37:54 AM
It shows that eastern coast & areas of India were much active for trade  with roman's during that era.

Cheers ;D