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earliest angular type which is certainly of pre-Christian date. In two instances there are words on the upturned sides of rice-plates, which appear to be the names of the persons for whom they were made. One was inscribed Gapati Sivasa, 'the householder Siva's'; the last letter is near the broken edge of the fragment of `earthenware, and possibly the name of this person's son followed it. The other, which is also incomplete, iske Dayapusaha Aba, 'Abhaya, (son) of Dayapusa '; the missing word may have been gamike, ‘the villager,' or bojike, 'the headman.' On all other fragments only one or two letters were found.

From the primitive forms of the letters, which do not include a single round s, or the rounded vowels or lengthened k or r, which stamp the date on post-Christian writing, it appears certain that the letters on the pottery in the upper part of this stratum, which were all written on the earthenware before it was baked, were inscribed at the latest three-quarters of a century before the Christian era, while those in the lowest part most probably date from the second and third centuries B.C., when the construction of the large dagabas and other important monastic edifices must have necessitated the presence of a large force of workmen. On many of the bricks laid in the Yaṭṭhāla and Mahānāga dāgabas similar letters were written or stamped before they were burnt.

The lowest stratum of remains was four feet thick in its lowest part, which was eighteen feet below the surface of the ground. In the very bottom of this layer one of the oblong coins (No. 1) was unearthed in 1883 in my presence, and it must, I believe, belong to the third century B.C. A second (No. 2) was taken out of another part of the same stratum, and therefore probably belongs to either the second or third century B.C. A third (No. 3) was found slightly above the pottery layer, and may be a century or perhaps two later than these. A fourth (No. 4) was met with at the remains of some early dwellings that were cut through in opening a channel from another sluice at this tank. The fragments of pottery which were found there were similar to those at the former cutting, and some bricks were of the same dimensions

as those used in the great dagaba of Mahā-Naga and appeared to have been made in the very same moulds. This coin, therefore, may also possibly date from the first, second, or third century B.C.


At the excavations made subsequently at Anuradhapura, twelve specimens of the oblong coins were found by Mr. S. M. Burrows, late of the Ceylon Civil Service, behind the northern wāhalkaḍa at the Abhayagiri dāgaba,1 and others were discovered by Mr. Bell, near the Jētawanārāma, but so far as I am aware not under circumstances which afford a clue to their age. It may be assumed that those having the simpler designs on them are of pre-Christian manufacture, while others are of later date, and one at least is proved by the Aum monogram on it to belong to about the third or fourth century A.D. I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Bell for permission to include descriptions of these coins with the rest.


Many of these coins have been discovered in India, and Sir Alexander Cunningham estimated that he had seen between four thousand and five thousand specimens. They have been figured and described on several occasions, but I think that no account has been given of any from Ceylon, except nine much worn examples found by Mr. Bell among the débris at an early monastic site in Anuradhapura, which was surrounded by a Buddhist Railing.' These were described and figured by him in 1892.*

All the Purānas found in the island have been imported from India. The punch-marks on them, each impressed by a separate small punch, and almost all near the sides of the coins, are, with perhaps two or three exceptions, identical with those on Indian coins; and silver and copper, the materials of which they seem to be composed, are not products of Ceylon.

1 Ievers, Manual of the North-Central Province, p. 234.
2 Arch. Survey of Ceylon. Fourth Progress Report, p. 13.

3 Coins of Ancient India, p. 42.

4 Arch. Survey of Ceylon. Fourth Progress Report, pp. 4 and 12.

These coins are thus a proof of the early trade with India. The majority are so much worn that any symbols that may have been impressed on them have almost disappeared.

The common designs that can be recognised on the obverse of this money are the rayed sun-symbol, a circle with six emblems round it, the dog, the elephant, the bull, fishes (some of them in tanks), the turtle, forms of trees, and a three-arched structure, surmounted in one case by a crescent. All the mammals face towards the right. The usual emblems that are absent from the coins which I have seen are the human figure, the bow and arrow, the caduceus, the Swastika, and birds.

On the reverse side some coins have several symbols which are generally nearly worn away, but as a rule there are few marks on that face, among which are the rayed sun, the tree, and the structure with three arches. In one case a person has engraved a design which perhaps was intended for the early cup-shaped letter m, with a cross-bar in the middle, as it occurs in local inscriptions of earlier date than 100 B.C. Another has a punched symbol which resembles an early letter, but may be part of an animal design.

The shapes vary as in India, about one-third of the coins being round in outline, while the others are more or less rectangular, and occasionally have one corner or two adjoining ones cut away. According to Indian authorities this indicates that when first cut off the strip of beaten silver hardened by an alloy of copper, from which it was taken, the coin was found to be too heavy and was therefore reduced in weight in this manner. It is obvious that it might still vary from the correct weight to the extent of some grains.

The full weight of such coins as these has been shown by Sir A. Cunningham to be about 57.6 grains.1 If this was the original weight of those found at Mulleittivu all must have been subjected to wear for an extended period, since the average of thirty-three 2 is only 33.8 grains, and runs from 28 to 1 Is it more than a coincidence that an early silver coin found in Crete weighs 564 grains?

2 The rest, which were extremely worn and unfortunately were unweighed, were acquired' by an inquisitive servant.

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39 grains; the heaviest weigh 38 and 39 grains, and the lighter ones from 28 to 30 grains. That these very low figures are due chiefly to wear and not merely to original short weight appears to be confirmed by the well-rounded corners of all the rectangular coins, and the indistinct or fragmentary state of the punch marks on all but four or five.

There are no sharp angles like those in the examples illustrated in the Coins of Ancient India. Some from which one or two corners have been cut are now among the lightest; it is to be presumed that these have lost half their original weight while in circulation, as they are too much worn to be coins that were at first of half the full weight. In Mr. V. A. Smith's Catalogue of the Coins in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, the weights of 108 selected out of about 300 range from 35.7 grains to 55.6 grains.

The late Sir Alexander Cunningham, who was for many years the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, and was the greatest authority on these coins, stated the mean weight of 800 to be 47 grains,1 and the average loss to have been one and a half grains per century of their age. He characterised a loss of 19 grains in a presumed age of 600 years as 'very exceptional' (C. A. I., p. 55), and he referred to a coin weighing 34 grains as an example of long wear. If the loss of weight of the lighter coins found at Mulleittīvu has been at this average Indian rate it would remove the date of issue of several of them to about 2000 B.C. At the very exceptional' rate the date would still be carried back to the eleventh century B.C.; and in the case of even the heavier ones it would extend to the eighth century.

I express no opinion on these ages; I merely point out the times to which Sir A. Cunningham's data would remove their origin if my belief regarding the date of their deposition is correct, leaving those with a knowledge of the subject to draw their own conclusions. Sir A. Cunningham thought that Purānas were issued by 1000 B.C., but Mr. V. A. Smith, in the Introduction to his Catalogue (p. 135), remarks that this estimate' almost certainly is much in excess of the truth.'

1 C. A. I., p. 55.


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As he states that it is well established that the full normal weight was about 58 grains,' it is to be presumed that he considers the rate of their erosion which was accepted by that distinguished archaeologist to be too low, although he states (p. 1) that Sir Alexander's unique experience extending over considerably more than half a century enabled him to accumulate a mass of knowledge, both general and special, concerning all classes of Indian coins, which nobody can hope to rival.'

The date when the Purānas were buried at Mulleittivu is approximately fixed, as will be shown below, by the type of the oblong coins found with them as probably in the first half of the second century B.C., and it is extremely unlikely to be later than the first years of the first century B.C.

Since the amount of the loss of weight of these Purānas must be accepted as proof that they were in circulation for a period amounting to at least several centuries, it is apparent, if that date be correct, that they all belong to a time prior to the introduction of Greek coinage into India.

They are of two general types, with some intermediate gradations, a larger thin coin of which both nearly square and rounded specimens occur as in India, and a much smaller but thicker coin which is usually oblong in shape, although both rounded and square examples occur. The larger coins have numerous punch marks on them, in several cases on both sides; the smaller specimens have few marks and those almost worn away. On some faces no marks are visible. The general appearance of the small coins, the surface of which is of a rougher texture than that of the others, and the extremely worn condition of their marks, a few of which can only be faintly seen in a strong light, lead me to suppose that they are considerably older than the larger coins; but there is not much difference in the weights of the two varieties, since although several of the lightest coins are of the smaller type other small ones are as heavy as many of the larger variety. It is important to note, however, that in the smaller coins the surface exposed to wear is little more than half that of the larger ones, and therefore an equal loss of weight in their case must indicate a far greater age.

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