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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,' 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 Mulleittivu 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.
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 Mulleittīvu 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.
The different shapes are all visible in the illustration in C. A. I., from a photograph, of the early carving (B.C. 250) found at Gayā, which represents the purchase of the garden for the celebrated Jētavana monastery at Srāvasti. The small coins are few in number in that relief. In the later one at Bharhut (150 B.C.) only the larger coins, both rectangular and round, appear to be shown.
Copper, which was used in the coins, is found sparingly in Northern India, but I think is not mentioned in the Vedas. Silver certainly was known in India at that early period, the moon being described as 'Silvery' (R.V., ix, 79, 9).
Although wealth is everywhere defined in the Vedic prayers as consisting of cattle, horses, and gold, it is to be remembered that the authors of the hymns were priests who always demanded the most valuable things, and that even if there was a gold coinage of some kind there would be few gold coins to pray for. As Mr. Del Mar remarks in his History of Money, they could only be required as multiples of a coinage of lower values. The omission to mention gold coinage in the hymns is therefore not a definite proof of its non-existence.
Mr. Del Mar has pointed out that the state of society and civilisation in India in the [later] Vedic age was one that apparently necessitated the use of some kind of money; and if the reference to a gift of the value of a thousand or ten thousand pieces in the Sāma Veda (Prapathaka, iii, 10, 9) is correctly translated by Stevenson it is clear that coins were numerous in the second millennium before Christ. The extract is as follows: O Wielder of the Thunderbolt, thou art not impoverished by a noble and surpassingly splendid gift, not by one of a thousand pieces' value, no, nor by one of ten thousand, not even, Possessor of Wealth, by such a gift a hundred times repeated.'
In the Rig Veda (Griffiths) viii, 1, 5, the words are, 'O Caster of the Stone, I would not sell thee for a mighty price, not for a thousand, Thunderer! not for ten thousand, nor a hundred, Lord of Countless Wealth.'
As in early times there was usually only one coin which
was found in great numbers in a country, it was a common practice to omit specifying any special coin, or even money, when mentioning large sums; only the number of the coins was given. Thus the pre-Christian annalists from whom the author of the first part of the Mahāvansa borrowed his historical facts stated that at the building of the so-called 'Brazen Palace' at Anuradhapura King Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi, in order to provide for the wages of the workpeople, deposited eight hundred thousand' at each of the four entrances. It is also recorded that in offerings at a festival at the Bō-tree he expended one hundred thousand,' and that he rewarded the architect of the Ruwanwaeli dāgaba, for his lucid explanation of his design, with a suit of clothes-a Robe of Honourworth a thousand'; and other similar examples might be quoted.
Of such statements there are several instances in the Rig Veda. In Book x, 17, 9, the line occurs, 'Give food and wealth to present sacrificers, a portion, worth a thousand, of refreshment.' In x, 102, 2 we find 'Loose in the wind the woman's robe was streaming what time she won a car load worth a thousand '; and in verse 9 of the same hymn, 'Therewith hath Mudgala in ordered contest won for cattle for himself a hundred thousand.'
I have not searched for earlier examples. Those which I have quoted appear to be quite as unmistakable references to money as the instances from the Mahāvansa. Since gold and silver money, which must have been preceded by a currency of lower value, is mentioned in the early part of the Rāmāyana as being well known (Book i, 13; ii, 32), I accept these references in the Rig Veda as clear proofs of the existence of some form of money that was in extensive use in later Vedic times.
We cannot expect ever to see many examples dating from such a far-distant period. Although, thanks to the early annalists, it is certain that numberless coins, which in some instances were stated to be termed Kahapana, were in use in Ceylon in early times, not one specimen of them had been seen twenty-seven years ago; and even now few have been