Bent Bars – the Earliest Punch Marked Coins

21 Sep 2016  Wed

Gandhara is mentioned in many ancient literature. The center flourished when Buddhism was at its peak. Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya refer to sixteen great countries (Mahajanapadas) which flourished in the Indian sub-continent during Buddha's time; only two of them, the Gandhara and the Kamboja were located in the Uttarapatha or the north-western division.

This theory concerning the first coins in India is quite widespread, though it is not accepted by everyone. The fascinating large bar coins were probably one of the earliest coins struck issued by Gandhara Janapada.

Gandhara issued coins of a concave long bar, about 1 to 1.75" in length and averaging about 0.4" in in width. The bars appear to be strips cut from oblong ingots. After being cut, the bars were adjusted more exactly to the correct weight of approx. to 11 to 11.5 gms by chiseling the corners and in some cases the obverse sides. A common symbol was punched on them twice, on each at the end of the bar. The coins were struck while hot on the wooden anvil, which resulted in the concaveness of the coins.

The earliest Gandharan coins – bent bars, were probably based on a Persian siglos standard, since the average weight of these coins is equals to the weight of 2 Persian sigloi. From Gandhara, the idea of struck, or punch marked, coinage spread south and soon the punch marked coins were produced in many other regions of northern and central India.

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