From the desk of the author
The Aravali range, one of the
oldest mountain chains divides modern Rajasthan into two distinct regions
diagonally. The Western Rajasthan is popularly known as “Thar desert” or as ‘Marudesh’
which is dry and sandy whereas the Eastern region of Aravali is comparatively
fertile and semi humid. Here we find classic evidences of various civilizations
that developed in different times well from Old Stone Age onwards.
when we trace the evidences of early History of the region we find a number of
architectural remains, epigraphs, numismatic finds etc. These evidences are
sometimes supported by the Buddhist, Jain and Vedic literature. Amongst these,
the numismatic evidences found through excavations or as hoards are the most
important and authentic. The Department of Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan is
rich enough in having a collection of variety of coins comprising of about
seventy eight series well from punchmarked to British period. Amongst these the
most important are punchmarked series of coins comprising of more than Seven
thousand silver coins kept in different Government Museums of Rajasthan. Besides
these silver coins there are some copper punchmarked coins also found from
South Eastern Rajasthan.
Eastern plains and slopes of Aravali range yielded a number of silver and copper
punchmarked coins whereas, the Western region of ‘Thar desert’ which is about
60%of the total area is yet to record such a discovery.
It is also
of interest that some silver puncmarked coins have been found in company with datable
Greek, Indo-Greek coins. Such finds definitely help in restructuring the early
history of the region. The silver punchmarked coins reported here are from
Bairat (Virat Nagar) Distt. Jaipur; Gurara Distt. Sikar; Ismailpur Distt. Alwar;
Jaichandpura Distt. Jaipur; Sambhar Distt. Jaipur; Rairh Distt. Tonk and Nagar Distt.
Tonk. The Rairh hoard comprises some copper coins also. In South Eastern
Rajasthan, a large number of copper punchmarked coins have been reported from Nagari
Distt. Chittorgarh, but most of these were surface finds. However, 16 coins
were recovered during excavation by Bhandarkar at Nagari which can be
considered authentic1. Thus, if we trace the numismatic finds from
North to South in the Eastern region of Aravali, we find a huge number of silver
punchmarked coins in North East and a few copper punchmarked coins in Southern
well known epic site (Virat Nagar) located 66 kms in North of Jaipur the
capital of Rajasthan. Major Burt discovered in the year 1840 C.E. the Bhabru-Vairat
rock edict of Ashoka of 3rd B.C.E. The other edict, was discovered
by Carylle in the year1872 C.E.at Bhim Doongari2. In the vicinity of
these edicts there were remains of Buddhist monastery. During excavation at
Bairat Sahani in 1935 C.E. found a small pottery jar of coarse clay containing ancient
silver punchmarked coins along with Greek-Indo-Greek coins kept in the lower
course of the outer wall behind the fourth cell from the North of the monastery3.
There were total 36 coins, 8 of these were punchmarked coins which were found wrapped
in a piece of cloth. The other 28 were of Greek/Indo-Greek kings lay loose in
the jar. The Greek coins include one of Helioclese (circa 140 B.CE.) the second
son of Eucratides, Indo-Greek king Apollodotus- 1, Menander-16, Antialkidas-1, Strato1-2,
Antimachos Nikephors-1, Hermaios with his queen Kalliape-2(circa-28-45 B.C.E.)and
Hermaios-4.This find is significant as it provides numismatic, archaeological, and
epigraphic proof about the ruling of Mauryans. The find also prove the leaning
of Mauryans towards Buddhism. The silver punchmarked coins have been found in
company with datable Indo-Greek coins. This indicate that Bairat, a Buddhist Centre
later on came under the domains of Menander the Indo–Greek ruler who himself
turned to be a Buddhist. This find provide authentic evidences of the Buddhist
establishment here in the 3rd B.C.E. until about 1st
West of Bairat (Virat nagar), a huge hoard comprising of 2744 silver punchmarked
coins was found from village Gurara, tehsil- Khandela, Distt. Sikar. The hoard
was found in a clay vessel while digging pits for plantation by the Department
of Forest of Rajasthan. The hoard was acquired by the Department of Archaeology
and Museums, Rajasthan in the year 2000 C.E.
to Bairat in the East, a hoard of 130 silver punchmarked coins was found by two
boys who were grazing goats on the slope of a hillock near the village Doongari
Ismailpur, Distt. Alwar. Ismailpur is situated about 19 kms in East of Bairat. This
hoard of 130 Silver punchmarked coins was acquired by the Department partly (59)
in the year 1965C.E. and partly (71) in the year 1971C.E.
of Bairat, a hoard of 595 punchmarked coins was found from village Jaichandpura,
Tehsil Jamwa-Ramgarh, Distt. Jaipur. Jaichandpura is located 60 kms in South of
Bairat and 46 Kms North- East of Jaipur. The hoard was acquired by the Department
in the year 1995 C.E. and published by the author in the year 1997C.E.. The
hoard was found in a broken earthen vessel.
addition to above, a very important find came to lime light through excavation
conducted at Naliasar Sambhar in the year 1884C.E. by Mr. lyon followed by Col. Handely4 and thereafter by
Dayaram Sahani in the year 1936-38 C.E.5. The site is about 60 Kms
in West of Jaipur. About 200 silver and copper coins which also included 6
silver punchmarked coins were found from an ancient mound situated on the bank
of newly dried up lake four miles from the Sambhar lake. The excavation was important
in determining the dates of different layers and the habitations. This revealed
six occupation levels. The lower most layers yielded 2 silver punchmarked and
remaining four coins in the main trench. Above this a silver coin of Indo-Greek
king Antimachaeous Nikephors was found. The upper layer yielded coins of ‘Arjunayans’,’Yaudheyas’
and one copper coin of Huvishka. The top most layer yielded 6 Indo-Sasanian
coins. The discovery of a silver coin of Indo-Greek ruler Antimachaeous
Nikephors was significant in the middle layer. One coin of Huvishka excavated
in the main trench helped in determining the later phase of the habitation.
Another very important site is Rairh which is situated in Distt. Tonk in
vicinity of Distt. Jaipur. The village Rairh is about 85 kms from Jaipur
towards South. It was a chance discovery that a peasant boy who was playing on
an ancient mound near the river Dhil a tributary of river Banas found an earthenware
vessel containing 326 silver punchmarked coins in the year 1936 C.E.6.
Afterwards, a stratigraphic excavation was initiated by Sahani followed by Puri
in the year 1938-39C.E. and 1939-40 C.E. which yielded four more hoards
consisting of 99, 132, 535, 1893 silver punchmarked, total 3075 punchmarked
coins7.This is one of the largest hoard of silver punchmarked coins
ever reported in the State. All the five hoards found at Rairh were in earthen vessel. Puri published a
detailed catalogue of the silver and copper coins found during excavations 8. One
of the significant find from Rairh excavation is recovery of silver punchmarked
coins (2) similar to the coins of Koshal Janapada. These coins are probably the
earliest coins found in the State. Apart from these silver punchmarked hoards
which were recovered from two different trenches during excavations at a depth of
about two to four feet below the surface, a large number of copper coins were
also recovered as surface finds. The surface finds comprised of a few silver punchmarkrd
coins, over 300 Malava,14 coins of Mitra kings, 6 Senapatis issue, 7 Vapu
coins, a broken coin of Apollodotous, 189 inscribed copper coins, a couple of
base- silver Indo-Sassanian coins etc. Some of the copper coins found here were
similar to the copper punchmarked coins found from Vidisha. These coins were thin,
broad and rectangular in shape.
The recovery of a group of 5 rectangular and 1 round inscribed copper
punchmarked coins bearing the name of the issuer ‘Senapatis Vachhaghos’ in
Brahmi characters on the top is unique. No such coin has been reported anywhere
else so far. According to ‘Anguttara Nikaya’ and ‘Bhagvati sutra’, Vachha (Vatsa)
was one of the 16 Janapada. According to Vrahit samhita also Vachha-gosh was a
Janapada9 It is also of interest that
name of a village was Goshundi near Chittor from where an inscription of 2nd
- 3rd century B.C.E. inscribed in Brahmi script was found.
Also from Rairh, 7 copper coins bearing the word ‘Vapu’ in Brahmi characters
and symbols like Ujjayani and mountain of the period 2nd B.C.E. have
been found. The fact is that around beginning of 2nd cent. B.C.E. Mauryan
Empire started to decline and ultimately the assassination of Brahdrath
grandson of Ashoka in 185 B.C.E. resulted into the rise of small principalities.
Pushyamitra Sunga was responsible for the fall of Mauryan Empire. Later on some
rulers having the suffix Mitra ruled in Kanauj, Panchala, Mathura and probably
in some parts of Eastern Rajasthan. Coins, similar to Mitra coins have been
found at Rairh.
south to Rairh a very important ancient historical site known as Nagar which is
also known as Karkot Nagar situated near Uniara Distt. Jaipur. From here five punchmarked
silver along with 100 Malava coins were recovered which are kept in the Archaeology
&Museums. Department, Rajasthan10 The site was surveyed by
Carlleyle long back in the year 1871-72 C.E. Inspired by this Deva undertook
excavation at Nagar later on.11
important historical site Tambavati Nagari probably the ancient Madhyamika of
Patanjali is situated about 10 kms North of Chittorgarh on the bank of river
Bedach. The site was first visited by Carllyle in the year 1872C.E. and
published his finds in Archaeological Survey of India report. Later on,
Bhandarkar undertook the excavations at Nagari in the year 1915-16 C.E.12.
During excavations at Hathi-Bada he recovered 16 Copper Punchmarked coins. Out
of four symbols on these coins, he could identify three symbols but in my opinion
the fourth one was that of a human figure having a pot in his right hand. Besides
these, a number of copper Punchmarked coins were reported by and Sanklia13
and Gupta14 etc. in their publications but their provenance is not satisfactory
some copper punchmarked coins are displayed at Govt. Museum, Ahar (Udaipur) but
their provenance is not known. These coins are similar to the coins found at
Nagari. The excavation report of Ahar by Sanklia, Deo, Ansari (1969C.E.) does
not mention the recovery of punchmarked coins from Ahar 15 .
fall of Mauryan Empire, the copper punchmarked coins probably belonging to
Matsaya Janapada and Vidisha were in circulation. The copper punchmarked
reported from Nagari probably belonged to Sungas. Thus, there is a continuity
of the punchmarked coins from 6th B.C.E onwards up to Sunga period
in the Eastern Rajasthan. The datable Greek and Indo-Greek coins recovered from
Bairat, Sambhar, Rairh and Ahar etc. are of great importance in determining the
chronology of the region.
observed that ‘Thar desert, the western region of Aravalis is completely devoid
of a hoard of Punchmarked coins whereas the eastern one is full of such type of
coins. It also shows that western Rajasthan was probably not under the dominion
of the rulers who issued such coins. Most probably Salves were ruling in this
examination of the numismatic finds from Rairh, provide complete series of
Punchmarked coins beginning with the coins of Koshal janapada followed by successors
of Bimbisara, Sisunagas, Nandas, Mauryans, Sungas etc. This find can help the
scholars in deriving the chronology of the region. Recovery of silver punchmarked
from Buddhist monastery and the Ashokan edicts from Bairath definitely
establish the influence of ‘Buddhism’ in the region. After the inroads of
Greek/Indo-Greek indicated through the recovery of their coins from Bairath, Sambhar,
Rairh and Ahar etc, it appears that the region was under political changes. During
this period circulation of Copper punchmarked coins in place of silver punchmarked
coins at Rairh and Nagari indicate political instability and economic
degradation in the region around 1st - 2nd B.C.E.
studied these silver and copper punchmarked coins and prepared a catalogue of
about 460 selected coins giving complete Numismatic details and submitted to
the Department in the year 2010 C.E. Later on the catalogue was put on the
Web-site for the use of scholars. The present catalogue represent selected
punchmarked coins recovered as hoards or during excavations in Rajasthan and a
few coins whose provenance is not known but laying in different Government
museums of Rajasthan. However while deriving the historical conclusions and
tracing the map of recovery only those coins recovered as hoards or during
excavations are considered. The coins of unknown find spots are specially
mentioned individually. Looking to the importance of these valuable ancient
coins, it is proposed to publish a printed catalogue. The author consulted the
Web-site16 of Department of Archaeology &.Museums, Rajasthan. Due
attention was paid to the views of Hardekar17, Gupta18 and
Mitchiner19 while mentioning the chronology and the dynasties.
Bhandarkar D.R., (1920) The
Archaeological remains and excavations at Nagari, (Memoirs of the
Archaeological survey of India, No.4), P.122, 148-49.
Sahni D.R, (1940) Archaeological
remains and excavations at Virat nagar, P.18.
Ibid, P.21, 32-35.
Sahni D.R, (1940, Rep.1999)
Archaeological remains and excavations at Sambhar, p.18-19.
Ibid, P.19, 48.
Puri K.N., (Rep.1998) Excavations at
Ibid, Pl. XXIV—XXXVI.
Gupta P.L, Bharat ke Purvakalik sikke,
P.L, (1997), Coins and Coin Hoards of Rajasthan, p.3.
S.P., Talk on coins, P.12.
D.R., (1920 ) The Archaeological remains and excavations at Nagari, (Memoirs of the Archaeological
survey of India,No.4),P.1,122.
H.D., Copper punchmarked coins fromNagari”J.N.S.I., Vol.XVII, 1955, Pt. I, p.1-28.
(1965) P.L, Bharat ke Purvakalik sikke, p.80-81.
H.D, Deo S.B., Ansari Z.D.(1969),Excavations at Ahar (Tambavati),P.13 .
P.L., Hardekar(2014 ) Punchmarked coinage of
the Indian subcontinent Magadh- Mauryanan Series.
P.l., (1963).The Amaravati hoard of
Silver punchmarked coins, P.149-151.
Michel (1978), Oriental Coins and their values, The Ancient and Classical
of the coins of Ancient India in British Museum.
A.R.E.N. Archaeological remains and excavations at Nagari.
A.R.E.S. Archaeological remains and excavations at Sambhar.
A.R.E.V Archaeological remains and excavations at Virat nagar.
O.C.V.(A.C.W.) Oriental Coins and their values, The Ancient and Classical world.
P.C.I.S. Punchmarked coinage of the Indian subcontinent.
P.R.H.C. Proceedings of Rajasthan History congress.
C.C.H. Coins and Coin Hoards of Rajasthan.
J.N.S.I. Journal of Numismatic society of India.