New Paper on Ancient Indian Coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SeptimusT, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Maurya copy.jpg

    I hope no one will mind a bit of shameless self-promotion, but I wanted to share my new publication with my Cointalk friends. It appears in the latest edition of the Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, and I am also sharing it through my page. It’s probably a real bore :)yawn:) for most anyone, especially if they aren't familiar with these types of coins, but I am still proud of it.

    I wrote this paper after I purchased a punchmarked Mauryan coin that had an unusual extra symbol on the reverse (above). When I tried to figure out what it was, I was surprised to discover that it was linked to a series of coins struck much later than the coin I had bought. After a crash course in Mauryan coinage, I concluded that it was a countermark and put this article together. It builds on some of the work that @EWC3 had already done, and it also has some implications regarding the chronology of the last Mauryan coins.

    I am very interested in the interpretation of the symbols used on these countermarks and some coins (they've been discussed on Cointalk before), but I’m not convinced that we can produce a satisfactory answer for that at this time, so I didn't really get into that.
    Alegandron, DonnaML, akeady and 12 others like this.
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  3. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Tyler, I have no interest in this coin type, however, I enjoyed reading your study :D. If I stumble on one of these coins in the future at least I'll have some idea of what I'm looking at, thanks to your study ;).
    SeptimusT likes this.
  4. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Same as Al, with no prior knowledge I enjoyed the article very much. Good job.
  5. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Thank you for this. It helps demystify them a little more. They're certainly not easy to identify - it's like a Roman coin with each word of the legend stamped in different directions and on top of each other. It's quite an accomplishment to discover something worthy of publication!

    I have one Mauryan coin, and even when I'm told the symbols on it, I still can't quite figure it out...
    Ashoka silver karshapana, 268-232BC, Mathura? 13mm, 3.30g. (Gupta/Hardaker ISPC 511; Mitchiner ACW 4229ff). Five punched symbols including sun, three-armed symbol and Ashoka's symbol
  6. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    Magadha/Mauryan PMCs remain for me the greatest of unsolved numismatic puzzles. Yet they remain for the most part unconsidered and unloved. Back in the 1970’s I spoke to an Indian collector who told me of a then recent hoard of 26KG - most of which had gone into the melting pot unstudied.

    The scale of the coinage was huge – surely rivaling that of Republican Rome. We know of Mauryan silver mines in Rajasthan that ran 260 meters below the water table. A spiraling staircase allowed manual draining – men running - day and night - carrying water buckets up and down. Close by is a huge strip mine for silver – as I understand it using a pioneering technique only re-invented (for coal) in 19th century America.

    My great good fortune was to join the Oriental Numismatic Society, founded by Michael Broome, and attend meets in private houses around London in the 1970’s. I think it was at Nick Rhodes’ house back then I got a ringside seat at an impassioned exchange between the late Terry Hardaker and the great Michael Mitchiner on the attribution of these coins.

    About that time I formed a plan to try solve the PMC puzzle myself - but sadly - wishing to do something got me nowhere by itself. It was later on that I played a part in getting a bunch of coins from the market place loaned to the BM to get them studied (sadly something that modern academia dictates is no longer even allowed!). The coins were excellently attributed by Liz Errington, but I felt there were very serious shortfalls in her interpretation of the data. I should confess it was her criticisms of me personally that pushed me to dig deep into her statistics and led to the only (small) contribution I am going to make to these matters. Such is life.

    The phenomenon that @SeptimusT writes on is one that Terry Hardaker spotted but I overlooked. Never the less, it tends to contradict his interpretation and favour mine - as the paper points out.

    @SeptimusT looks like a young guy in his photo. For sure I will not live to see the PMC myseries solved, but its good to think someone else is carrying on the struggle. Maybe he will yet solve them?

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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