Madurai

Silver coin of Mauryan period further establishes trading activities in Keeladi

A silver coin that was dug out during the seventh phase of excavation at Keeladi recently.  

MADURAI

A punch-marked silver coin that was dug out during the seventh phase of excavation at Keeladi last week has yet again sent a wave of excitement among archaeologists as they are further able to collate and establish trading activity of the civilisation believed to have flourished on the banks of river Vaigai more than 2500 years ago.

The finding of a single punched-mark silver coin so far is stated to be unique. However, a similar semi-circular silver coin was excavated earlier at a depth of 162 cm, during the fourth phase of excavation at Keeladi. The two coins suggest commercial activities belonging to the middle of the 4th century BCE, according to the director of Keeladi excavations, R Sivanandam.

The latest coin was found at the base of layer three of YP44/1 quadrant, almost touching the ground and was covered in thick green sediment.

"Only after the coin was treated and we learnt the material is silver with figurines on one side and minor marks on the other, we were amazed about its importance," said Ajay Kumar, the Archaeology Officer at site.

The designs on the coin, according to Mr.Sivanandam, who is also the Deputy Director, Department of Archaeology, are of the sun, moon, a bull, taurine, and another animal that resembles a dog on one side and a semi-circle with two small geometric L-shaped marks on the obverse . "It is a proof that trading was with North India where such coins were in use in the 6th Century BCE," he said and added, "these evidences are opening up the entire working system of the country in those times."

The coin measuring 2.1x 1.7x0.1 and weighing 2.20 gms, was found at a depth of 146 cm. The shape which is partly oval with rectangular edges on two sides, looks like a magnified drop. It indicates the time period of the Mauryan Empire. The chronology of punch-marked coins also vary from region to region.

Copper coins with markings were found at Kodumanal and Alagankulam during past excavations as well. "Each finding and information helps to bridge the connection between the north and the south in the gangetic valley," Mr.Sivanandam told The Hindu.

According to C Santhalingam, retired Archaeology Officer, the excavation of beads, copper objects, northern black polished ware, semi-precious stones and punch mark coins here indicated that skilled persons were importing raw materials, may be from Gujarat and Afghanistan, and a flourishing making and cutting industry for jewels and other artifacts existed here. "Any trading activity strongly establishes an urban civilisation, he added.


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