Mauryan Empire. AR karshapana (15 mm, 3.41 g). Period of Samprati (c.216-207 BC). Obverse: 5 punchmarks- 3 human figures (each a separate punch), tree in rail and elephant on 5-limbed symbol. Reverse: One punchmark. Mitchiner Ancient and Classical World 4246, Gupta-Hardaker 587 (Type VII I D 27). This coin: Triskeles Auction 28, lot 477 (June 21, 2019). The Mauryan Empire was founded in 321 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, who conquered the powerful north Indian state of Magadha and then extended his borders. The Mauryan Empire reached its greatest extent under Ashoka (272-232 BC), who conquered nearly the entire Indian subcontinent before renouncing wars of conquest and turning to Buddhism. Surviving literary sources show a society with a highly developed and multi-level bureaucracy, powerful tradesmen's guilds, and extensive trade networks operating in a monetary (rather than barter) society. The last part is confirmed by the huge numbers of punchmarked coins that have been found at archeological digs from that period. Not much is known about the later kings. Samprati (probably 216-207 BC, though other sources list him as 224-215 BC) is known to have favored the Jain religion, and to have sent Jainist missionaries within India and to other regions. The Mauryan Empire gradually declined in the period post-Ashoka, and was replaced by the Sungas in 185 BC. There is written evidence of the relative purchasing power of these coins: the lowest-paid laborers received 60 silver karshapanas per year, while the chief priests and commanders of the army received 48,000. As these coins lack inscriptions, attribution to specific kingdoms and reigns is largely conjectural and based on findspots, archeological context, and sequences of designs based on overstrikes, but the basic outline has been pretty well established by decades of hard work by devoted scholars. However, the meaning of the various symbols is not always clear. The three human figures on this type are identified by Mitchiner as Kartikeya, a Hindu war god. However, I am unsure what that ID is based on, as the attributes of the figures (a horseshoe-shaped object each is holding, and dots above their heads) don't seem to be part of the standard imagery of Kartikeya. Gupta and Hardaker mention one punch mark that may depict Kartikeya, but it shows a man holding a spear (reasonable for a war god) and is not found in triplicate on coins. Also, I can't find any reason why Kartikeya would be found in triplicate. The only number I found linked to him was six, and he is sometimes shown with six faces. (As an infant, the god was found by six of the Pleiades, who argued over which should nurse him, until the infant god grew five more heads so that all six could nurse him simultaneously.) If anyone knows of a scholarly source or justification for the Kartikeya ID, or wants to suggest some other ID for the figures, I would like to hear it. Also please post your own Mauryan or other Indian punchmarked coins.