MAURYA-SUNGA, punchmarked karshapana, c. 200 BC


MAURYA-SUNGA, punchmarked karshapana, no date (c. 200 BC), no mint, Obverse: 3 figures type, silver, 15mm, 3.03g, series VII, GH589, VG

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Gupta and Hardaker, in their book, mention that the 3 figures punch is not noticeably rare, but that it is popular. Out of several hundred pieces examined I’ve found 3.

Mauryan karshapanas used a system of applying 5 punches on one side of the coin, and 1 or 2 marks on the other side. There are also banker test marks. The catalog we use here is Ancient Silver Punchmarked Coins of the Magadha-Maurya Karshapana Series, by P.L. Gupta and T. R. Hardaker.

Bureaucratic governing systems emerged when people who didn’t know each other personally were interacting in ways other than war. Coins were developed to keep track of the mutual satisfaction factor in trades. In northern India bureaucratic governments emerged before the 6th century BC. They were family based. Families of a certain size we like to term “tribal.” In northen India the earliest “tribal” states are called “janapada.”

In 187 BC Pushyamitra Sunga usurped the Mauryan throne. At that point in time the Empire had shrunk most of the way back to Magadha, from which it had sprung.

The earliest ancient Indian coins were the “bent bar” punchmarked silvers of the Achaemenid Persians occupying Gandhara in northwest Pakistan. By the 3rd century BC coins were in general use in most of India and Ceylon, and in subsequent centuries struck round coins in gold, silver, and copper came into use throughout the subcontinent and beyond to Southeast Asia and Pacific islands to Java and beyond.