The Emergence and Spread of Coins in Ancient India

  • Deme Raja ReddyEmail author
Part of the Financial and Monetary Policy Studies book series (FMPS, volume 39)


This communication describes the emergence and spread of coins in ancient India. The barter system of exchange of goods was prevalent in ancient India from the Vedic period. The Indus valley people may have used precious metals of fixed weights such as silver for buying goods which is evident from excavations in the DK area at Mohenjo-Daro. But eventually barter method gave way slowly to the money economy through the medium of coins for their obvious advantages. The origin of coins, also known as metallic money in India dates back to the sixth–seventh centuries BC and it is probable that Lydia, India and China invented coinage around the same time and also independent of each other. The emergence of coinage was one of the important monetary innovations in ancient India. The formation of ‘janapadas’ and the evolution of the second urbanization were the catalysts for the invention of coinage. The money economy originated in India during the ‘janapada’ period and it grew markedly during the Magadha, Nanda and Mauryan rule which needed the maintenance of a huge army as well as official machinery to run the big empire. Coinage and urbanization which are linked also facilitated the growth of trade in the country internally as well as with other countries. Maritime trade prospered especially with Rome during the Satavahana rule in the Deccan. The lack of trade barriers between ‘janapadas’ and the presence of local rulers even during the rule of major dynasties might have contributed to the growth of trade.


Imperial Type Ship Type Silver Coin Maritime Trade Treasure Trove 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nizam’s Institute of Medical SciencesHyderabadIndia

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