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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Coins in Ancient & Medieval India: Indo-Greek Coins

Coins in Ancient & Medieval India



The word Coin is procured from the Latin word Cuneus. It is believed that the first recorded use of coin was in China & Greece around 700 BC, and in India in the 6th century BC.

The study of coins and medallions = Numismatics.


Indo-Greek Coins:


  • Indo-Greeks introduced the fashion of showing the head of the ruler on the coins.

  • The legends on their Indian coins were mentioned in two languages- in Greek on one side and in Kharosthi on the other side of the coin.

  • The Greek gods & goddesses commonly shown on the Indo-Greek coins were Zeus, Hercules, Apollo, and Pallas Athene.


These coins are significant because;
  • They carried detailed information about the issuing monarch, the year of issue, and sometimes an image of the reigning king.

  • Coins were made of silver, copper, nickel, and lead

  • The coins of the Greek kings in India were bilingual, i.e., written in Greek on the front side and in Pali language (in Kharosthi script) on the back.

Later, Indo-Greek Kushan kings introduced the Greek custom of engraving portrait heads on the coins. Kushan coins were adorned with a helmeted bust of the king on one side, and the king's favorite deity on the reverse. The coins issued by Kanishka employed only Greek characters.


The substantial coinage of the Kushan Empire also influenced a large number of tribes, dynasties, and kingdoms, which began issuing their own coins.

Fig: Kushan Period Coin




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