. The Ancient Coinage of Nor-tAhern India
FOR more than seventy years the varied coinages of India, Introduc-
which extend over a period of about 2,500 years, have been tory.
diligently studied by a multitude of collectors and scholars,
whose labours have had a great share in the gradual recovery
of the long-lost history of ancient India. For some obscure
periods, indeed, our knowledge is derived almost exclusively
from coins, the only contemporary documents now surviving.
But, although much has been done, the numismatic field is
so vast, and the difficulties of its thorough exploration are so
great, that ample scope remains for further researches. In the
following sketch an attempt is made, so far as the prescribed
limits of space permit, to give a general view of the evolution
of Indian coinage. The historical results of numismatic inves-
tigations are embodied in the chapter devoted to the early
history of the country.
The introduction into India of the use of coins, that is to
say, metallic pieces of definite weight authenticated as currency
by marks recognized as a guarantee of value, may be ascribed
with much probability to the seventh century B. C., when
foreign maritime trade seems to have begun. There is reason
to believe that the necessities of commerce with foreign
merchants were the immediate occasion for the adoption by
the Indian peoples of a metallic currency as well as of
Coinage, as Mr. James Kennedy justly observes, is, according 'Punch-
to Oriental ideas, ' the business, not of the state, but of the marked'
banker and merchant'.' In accordance with this principle, the
earliest Indian currency was struck by private persons, not by
governments. This consists of bits of metal more or less
rectangular in shape, and trimmed when necessary at the
corners so as to scale the required weight. Sometimes the coins
'Early Commerce of Babylon with India,'J. R. A. S., i898, p. 281.