Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99
Height: 15.000 mm
Width: 15.000 mm
Weight: 3.660 g
Room 33: Asia
Bronze cast coin
Mauryan Empire, 3rd century
Cast in a new mould
At its greatest extent in the 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Empire stretched from Kabul in Afghanistan to Nellore (near Madras) in south India. Control of such a vast area encouraged the use of standardized units of payment.
A completely new method of casting copper coinage in a mould was introduced. Casting gave control over the juxtaposition of the symbols, which were used on both sides of the coin. Initially the coins were square with four symbols on each side. Later, round coins were also produced.
The cast coins use the same traditional Indian symbols that characteristically appear on Mauryan silver coinage. The obverse (front) of this square coin has an elephant, a sun and moon (or bull's head), a swastika and a standard, while the reverse carries hill and crescent symbol, a bull's head, a fenced sacred tree and a water tank (in the form of a cross).
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)