Chola Trifecta!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by JayAg47, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Finally, collected all three copper, silver, and gold issues of the Chola dynasty.

    copper stater- Raja Raja Chola (985-1014), 4.2g
    obverse shows standing king smelling a lotus next to a lamp, pellets to his right, reverse shows seated king blowing a conch, and the letters Raja Raja in Nagari legends.
    silver denarius- Rajendra Chola (1014-1044), 2.96g
    Commemorative coin of Rajendra Chola conquering the neighboring kingdoms of Chera, and Pandya, depicted as the royal emblems-Cholan tiger, flanked by the Pandyan twin fish to its right, and the Cheran bow behind the tiger, all under the single rule symbolized by the umbrella, also there are two lamps on the either end of the fish and the bow to denote auspiciousness. And the legends in Nagari states, Uttama Chola, actually the name of his great uncle, but some say this coin was actually from the time of Uttama Chola (970-985) but it's highly unlikely that he managed to bring his neighbors under control. This coin is not related to the Roman denarius whatsoever, but the size, shape, and weight just reminds me of one!
    Gold 1/8 Kahavanu- Rajendra Chola (1014-1044), 0.45g
    Also a commemorative coin with the obverse showing the same imagery, however the reverse reads Yudha-malla, one who's strong in wars.
    The copper coin was my first ancient coin I got back in 2013, and ever since i've actively started collecting coins a couple of years ago I wanted to put together a set like this, and a funny thing is the silver coin is much harder to come buy and paid as much as the gold one in even this ratty condition!
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
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  3. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Well done!...Nice trio!...I'm still stuck on the Bronzes..
  4. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    that’s a lovely collection of the later Srilankan issues, I’m yet get one of those as well!
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  5. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I like all of those South Indian coins as well as the coins from Sri Lanka/Ceylon. I have been searching for a good, gold version of Rajendara Chola's GanGai Konda Chola coin, but they are difficult to come by these days. Here is my attempt:

    Ceylon: Raja Raja Chola (ca. 985-1014) AV Kahavanu (MNI-825)

    Ceylon: Vijaya Bahu I (ca. 1055-1110) AV kahavanu (MNI-831)

    Ceylon: Anonymous (ca. 980 - 1070) AV Kahavanu (MNI-825)

    Ceylon: Nissanaka Malla (1187-1196) AE Massa (Mitchiner-835

    Arya Chakravartis of Jaffna: Anonymous (ca. 1284-1410) AE Massa


    Imperial Chola: Raja Raja Chola (985-1014) 2 Fanams (Ganesh-1.8)

    Imperial Chola: Raja Raja I (ca. 1007) AE Kasu

    Imperial Chola: Kulottunga Chola I (1070-1120) AE Kasu

    Imperial Chola: Rajendra Chola (1014-1044) AR Kahavanu

    Imperial Chola: Rajendra Chola (1014-1044) AR Kahavanu

    Counterfeiter's Mold of a Ceylon Massa
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
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  6. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Quant.Geek....Some stunning!, hard to come by coins there!! Thanks for sharing.
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  7. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Interesting comment. Chola silver apparently used the same weight standard as my Shahi masthead - seems to be close to 3.43g. So very close to the eight-to-the-ounce standard set for the denarius by Nero.

    The Romans were aware of this and there was a sort of ancient 'pre-Indo-European' theory put out by a Roman guy (I forget his name) that Romans and Hindus must have a common cultural origin as they used the same weight standard.

    The theory that European and Indian weight standards are related in some simple mathematical way continues to arise again and again. It was claimed in a paper in the journal Nature around 2002 as I recall, and I believe is still supported by Bosak.

    But personally I think you are right. This 3.4g matter is just a co-incidence, there was no direct link

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  8. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    and don't forget the Mauryan punch mark coins of the 3rd century BC, they also weigh between 3-3.5g!
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  9. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Yep - See my book pages 147 onwards

    3.43g was determined as the quarter unit at Mohenjo Daro by Hemmy. Way before 2000 BC. As I best I recall I got 3.43 for 61 mint state period I PMC’s - also for 29 GF Spalapati Jitals (hard to find minty ones). The standard was certainly used down to South Indian pagodas of the colonial period.

    Actually the archaeologist Kenoyer did point this matter out once – in that book put out by Renfrew et al (Cambridge 2010) - but he apparently backed away from defending this after being scoffed at (by Harvard Prof Witzel & Co).

    But Hey!- if I do not get scoffed at at least once a week I think I must be getting things wrong :)

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  10. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    That's a fantastic source!
    Also recent ongoing excavations in Keeladi in Southern India, a village once under the control of Pandyas/Cholas shed some light into the questions regarding the continuation of knowledge from the Indus Valley. Carbon dating of the skeletons of humans, cattle, and charcoal found to be from around 600 BC.
    Some scripts have been found to be similar looking!
    They even excavated weight balls, however I don't know if they are any similar to the one from Indus Valley.
    They may even have inadvertantly created carbon nano-tubes!
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  11. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Wow - thanks! I had not seen this link to Keeladi

    But first an apology and correction of my mental block early this am. The Chola silver is apparently to the Persian Mithcal or Attic standard - the same as typical Gadhaiya Paisa and the gold gadyana coins etc. About 4.2g or so. Probably I now think the Attic standard initially applied specifically to Gold and inspired by the Indo-Greeks. Its the PMC's, jitals (and some pagodas etc) that maintain the very ancient c. 3.4g standard.

    These balls from Keeladi are not to Indus Valley standard by the look of it - but possibly closer to a Chola c. 4.2g standard???

    The Indus Valley weights are cubes but the weights from Ancient Taxila found by Marshall were balls (to Indus standard).

    The Ancient Ceylonese ones are balls too - published by Harry Falk here

    Its a pity the newspaper report does not give exact weights - have you tracked them down? Extant text recorded by Codrington tell us the Cholas were very careful about weights and that Kings distributed official ones - but I never saw any extant examples reported. Maybe these are they?

    In haste

    All the Best

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
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  12. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    I actually found this paper from last year, but it should be noted that the excavations are still ongoing and it's in it's sixth phase, things like nano-tube structures were only officially reported just last month, so hope to hear more in the future!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
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  13. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Thanks for the link. Now had time to hunt around a bit - results are a bit disconcerting.......

    As to the standard - my best guess would be these are gold weights and from a late date for the site, 1st century AD (or later). This would be in line with the Falk weights from Sri Lanka, also from recent work on redating the surviving version of the Arthashatra.

    Note the “8 gram” weight – if such it is – is spot on for a Great Kushan gold stater. But presumably these were used for gold dust or some such in South India at that time. Rather than coin.

    I think Falk made a mistake in analysing the Sri Lanka weights. He thought he had a single consistent set of weights – but it seems clear to me they were a mixed bag. The small ones are to the c. 3.43g Indus Valley “silver” standard. The larger ones - like these from Keeladi – look like the "gold" standard which seems to derive from the Indo-Greeks and came to dominate trade and finance in Kushan times – even it seems in the far South.

    OK – more troubling are the 21st century cultural aspects of all this. There is now nearly zero interest in weight standards in western popular culture. Around 2007 a weight from about 1200 BC was found in England (off shore actually – Salcombe). It was more or less a troy ounce and is about 1200 years older than any previous know English weight. The press did not report the find. I heard about it by complete chance – I tried to get it reported in an archaeology magazine and the staff did not bother to reply to my email. It finally got reported on line in 2019 here:

    But from the USA via Germany - not Britain!

    Meanwhile at Keeladi they dig up some weights and only a week later it is a story in Times of India.

    Sounds like people in India are more interested in weights – but hang on. Are they really? The size of the weights – which is of nearly no importance – is given to 1/100th of a mm. But the weight of the weights – which is crucial – is rounded off to the nearest gram. Additionally all the serious work on the standard I know of points to either a Persian or a Greek origin for this weight standard – and it is clearly not to the Indus Valley standard that the researcher are pushing with their graffiti work – so any thoughtful analysis gets brushed under the carpet, in favour of what people would like to believe…….


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  14. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Another way to look at it is the sea trade! I made an older post about how Roman coins came to be in use in the ancient Tamil kingdoms through trade, and it seems not far fetched for the Greeks before the Romans to do similar trading.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
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  15. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Yes - lots of Roman gold and silver coin in South India. All the old books tend to say the Kushans too got their stater weight by copying the aureus. That is why it is important to get the exact weights of these carefully made items. 8 grams is slightly high for an aureus - but 300 grams is low for a libre.

    Falk has posted a lot of detail about a kind of Indian version of Attic used by the Bactrian greeks - his info is good - from inscriptions on silver vessels (a practice they seem to get from Persians). Added to that we have a few very rare early symbolic Hindu gold coins - just one in the BM, but Kulkarni found and published a few more. They seem to be very carefully adjusted in weight to 2.15g – this near exactly half an attic drachm weight. And by coincidence it is also 20 rattis to the Indus Valley standard (see my text p. 148). Ancient Hindu texts go on and on and on about an 80 ratti gold standard, and these coins shows seem how it was first applied in India. The reduction from 2.15g to 2 grams (ie 8.6g to 8g for the di-drachm) is in line with what the Indo-Greeks did with silver standards – taking a 1/16th as seigniorage.

    So text and coin seem to fit to an Indian version of Attic from Afghanistan making it 80 rattis. There is no corresponding narrative for a derivation from the aureus – they are just similar but slightly different in weight.

    As a young guy I met a Russian prof in the BM who strongly held this sort of aureus account of Kushan weight standards. I pointed out to him that the Kushan stater was just as close to half a Chinese liang as it was to an aureus. He grabbed me by the scarf (it was a really cold day) in order to aggressively instruct me that I was wrong! Ha – amazing how firmly people grip their preferred ideas.

    Basically – the attic via Afghanistan idea gives a very coherent account of why 8 grams came to be 80 rattis - if you follow the detail. The sea version via gold coins lacks that coherent sort of back story. Not that it is definitely wrong – but it does not fit the evidence in the elegant way the landward version does. Or so it seems to me.
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  16. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @EWC3 and @JayAg47.......What an interesting thread this has become!
    I'm learning a great deal here with some great links to follow up thanks...Paul
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