The Golden Age of Indian Coinage: The Gupta Coins

According to some scholars, the most glorious period of ancient Indian history is the rule of the Gupta dynasty. They ruled large parts of northern India from early 4th century CE to mid-6th century CE. The Guptas started their rule from a small state in eastern India. Gradually their rule extended over a large part of south Asia. The first of the significant Gupta rulers was Chandragupta I. The most famous ruler of this dynasty was Samudragupta. India prospered in almost every sphere of life during this period. The flourishing state of economy can be ascertained from the large number of gold coins circulated by different Gupta rulers.

The Gupta monarchs were famous for their gold coins. They also issued silver coins. However, coins made of copper, bronze or any other alloy metals are scarce. The abundance of gold coins from the Gupta era has led some scholars to regard this phenomenon as the ‘rain of gold’.

The Gupta gold coin is known as dinaras. The gold coins of the Gupta rulers are the extraordinary examples of artistic excellence. The coins depicted the ruling monarch on the obverse and carried legends with the figure of a goddess on the reverse.

The artists depicted the ruler in various poses. The study of these imageries is very interesting. Mainly the images celebrated the martial qualities and the valor of the ruler. In many coins of Samudragupta, he is depicted as carrying an axe. In others, he is carrying a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right hand. The coins of Kumaragupta I (c. 415-450 CE) depicted him riding an elephant and killing a lion. Another very interesting image of Samudragupta depicted him as playing a ‘veena’, a stringed musical instrument. There are also some instances of Gupta coins which were jointly issued by the king and the queen. The ‘king-queen’ types of coins were issued by Chandragupta I, Kumaragupta I, and Skandagupta. These coins depicted both the figures of the king and queen in a standing pose. Kumaradevi, the name of the queen of Chandragupta I is known from these coins. But the other two kings did not mention the name of their queens in their joint issues.

The ‘Asvamedha’ or horse-sacrifice coins were issued by both Samudragupta and Kumaragupta I. Horse sacrifice is an ancient Hindu ritual in which a very powerful monarch sacrificed a horse after some elaborate rituals to demonstrate his political power. A very few among the ancient kings of India had performed this sacrifice as it was allowed for only those with enormous power and wealth. The fact that two of the Gupta monarchs performed it is evident from their coins. It also showed their immense power and wealth.

Almost every Gupta coin carried the figure of a goddess and an inscription in the reverse. Sanskrit was the language of the inscription. The goddess posed in either sitting or a standing position. There were many goddess depicted in these coins. The most common was the image of Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. Other goddesses who featured in the Gupta coins included Durga, the Hindu goddess of valor; Ganga, the goddess of the river Ganges; etc.

Some of the Gupta coins, mainly the silver ones, carried the images of Garuda, a mythical bird of Hindu tradition.  These coins are found in large numbers in western India. In some cases, the Garuda is replaced by a peacock. This variety of coins is extremely rare. And thus, carry a great value for the numismatists.

The first hoard of the Gupta coins was found at Kalighat, in Calcutta in 1783. The coins were handed over to Warren Hastings, the British governor-general who sent them to London. Now, many of the coins of this collection can be seen at the British Museum.

The Coins of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was one of the most interesting personalities of Medieval Indian history. He ruled from 1324 to 1351 AD. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was interested in Persian poetry, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy and was also noted a philosopher.  He was well-versed in the religious topics and fluent in both Arabic and Persian. From the beginning of his kingship, the countrymen had a huge expectation from him. He took some very bold and strong measures to reform the Sultani administration at the advent of his rule.

He took great steps in revenue reformation. He decided to shift his capital from Delhi to Devagiri, which is now known as Daulatabad. Daulatabad is situated in Central India. Though controversial, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq showed a great sense of pragmatism in this decision. He not only saved his capital from the Mongol raids but also ensured the proper administrative rule in both the northern and southern part of the India.

His rule is also significant for the introduction of token currency.  He understood the importance of currency as a medium of commercial exchange and that is why he took keen interest to circulate gold and silver coins. The gold coin was introduced as Dinar. Tughlaq’s silver coin was named Adl.  However, it was difficult to maintain the supply of gold and silver coins on a large scale. So, Tughlaq replaced those coins and started the circulation of copper and brass coins as the token currency which had the same value of gold or silver coins in 1330-32 CE. He was well aware that the state had to act as a responsible guarantor for the token money by ensuring high degree of security which will prevent others from making fake currencies.

But the administrators failed in maintaining the security measures. These coins totally lacked the artistic design and perfection in finishing and even the administrators of the king took no measure to keep the design secured and protected.  In fact, the coins just had some inscriptions and no royal seals. These loopholes make them easier to copy. Thus, ordinary people easily copied the design and started making coins in their house. Soon the entire market was flooding with the fake coins. The ordinary people started to pay the state revenue with their home made coins and this caused a great problem for the state treasury. Within a very short period of time the state treasury was full of fake coins. Historians have argued that the value of the coins decreased for such wholesale forgery and it became worthless like the stones.

As a result, the trade and commercial activities were heavily disrupted. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was forced to take back all the token currency. He had to exchange them with old gold or silver coins. Thousands of people exchanged their copper coins with silver tankas or gold dinars and the state treasury faced a huge loss. However, the detected forged coins were not exchanged. In 1333 CE, the use of the token coins was stopped. Ibn Batuta, the famous medieval traveler who came to Delhi in 1334 CE wrote an account of contemporary India which had no mention of these token currencies.

Muhammad became very much unpopular among his subjects for his failed administrative reform policies. Soon one by one his provinces started to revolt. He was not able to suppress all those revolts; thus, creating much chaos and confusion everywhere. His failed and ruthless experiments with government policies made him famous in the history textbooks as the “Mad Sultan” of India.

Coins of Independent India

The year 1947 is considered as the most important year in the history of modern South Asia. This year witnessed the departure of the British from South Asia and the emergence of two nation states replacing the British Raj- India and Pakistan. Before independence, the Indian economy was completely dominated by the British. The coins and currency notes circulated in India also carried the image and the seal of the British monarch. However, with the coming of the independence the situation changed. The Indian economy came under the control of the Indian people. The Government of India replaced the authority of the British royalty and started circulating coins and currency notes bearing symbols reflecting indigenous tradition and culture.

India, though gained its independence in 1947, issued its first coins in the year of 1950. The first series of Indian coins were released on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of Indian independence on 15th August, 1950. These coins replaced the image of the British monarch which was inscribed on the coins of the earlier regime. Instead, the image of the Sarnath capital of Mauryan emperor Asoka was inscribed on the obverse of the coins. The obverse also carried the inscription ‘the Government of India’. The reverse carried the image of a wheat plant. The denomination of the coin was also inscribed on the reverse. The Roman script was used for this purpose. These coins were made of an alloy of copper and nickel. Coins were issued in both Rupee and Pice denomination.

A major step was taken by the Indian government in 1957 in a view to reform the monetary system. The prevalent system of dividing a Rupee in 64 Pices was replaced by the decimal system. From 1957, the Rupee was to be divided into 100 Pices. 1 Pice became the smallest unit of Indian monetary system. The earlier denominations of .5 Pice or .25 Pice became obsolete. The new Pice came to be known as “naya Paise” or the new Pice. In these new Pices the ‘Government of India’ inscription was also shortened into simple ‘India’. It was a very important change. This change contributed in a large amount in modernizing the Indian monetary system, and in turn, the Indian economy. Only some beggars complained about this change as they had to meet only 64 people earlier to gather a Rupee. Now, they had to meet 100!

From 1964 onwards, coins of various denominations were being issued made of Aluminum-Magnesium alloy. The increasing cost of issuing Cupro-Nickel coins was the main reason behind this decision. This year also saw the issuing of the first series of memorial coins in India. The first memorial coins were dedicated to the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Till then, the government had issued coins in memory of several other leading public figures too. Most important among them is the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1968, a 10 Pice coin was issued by the Government of India made of an alloy of Aluminum-Bronze. These coins were of golden color. It led many illiterate and semi-literate people in India to believe that these coins were made of gold. They collected these coins in large numbers and melt them in search of gold. The government stopped the issuing of these coins to control the mass hysteria; and started issuing another series of coins in October, 1971 made of Aluminum-Magnesium alloy.

In 2010, the Government of India selected a design by D. Udaya Kumar as the official sign of the Indian currency. This sign is now used by all the government organizations, financial institutions, etc. to denote Rupee.

The Coins of Akbar, the Great Mogul

The Moguls started their reign in India in the year 1526 CE. Babur, the founder of the Mogul rule defeated the reigning Sultan of Delhi and established his rule. From 1526 to 1857, the Mogul emperor was the sole source of legitimate rule in the whole of South Asia. However, after Babur’s death his son Humayun faced crushing defeat at the hands of a Pathan lord, Sher Shah Suri in 1540. Humayun left India and took refuge in Persia. But his son Jalal ud-din Akbar was of extraordinary talent. After the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1545, the Pathans were in a weak position. Humayun took the advantage and returned to India. His son Akbar finally crushed the power of the Pathans and established the Mogul rule on a strong footing.

Akbar’s reign saw the all round development of India. The people of India prospered in every sphere of life. Trade and commerce flourished, arts and aesthetics attained new heights, and religious syncretism of the Moguls became the example of the day. The all round development can also be traced in the coins issued during the rule of Akbar Shah.

The monetary system of Akbar was inspired largely by the innovations of Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah Suri was an able administrator. Akbar, though from a rival house, adopted several of the administrative measures innovated by Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah first introduced Rupya. It was a silver currency weighed 178 grains. Akbar continued to issue the Rupya with his own name inscribed. Interestingly, the money is still known by the name of Rupya in India.

Akbar not only copied the measures introduced by Sher Shah, he also reflected innovation and originality. He issued coins in all the three principal metals used for coinage worldwide. The gold coin was known as Mohur. Mohurs weighed about 170 grains. It was mainly used by the traders for large business deals. It was also used by the princes of royal blood, the landlords and the regional governors for large amount of payment. Apart from the continuing usage of Rupya, Akbar also issued a different variety of silver coin known as Shahrukhi. It was of much lighter weight than the Rupya. A typical Shahrukhi weighed about 72 grains. The copper coins of Akbar Padshah were known as Dam. Dam weighed about 330 grains. The Shahrukhi and Dam were circulated in large numbers and used extensively by the common folks. The exchange rate of converting a particular variety of video porno coin into another variety was also clearly defined.

The Akbari system of coinage is significant because of their minute details. A detailed description of the issuing year and the location of the mint were inscribed on the coins. The coins also carried the full title of the emperor. This practice was followed by all the subsequent Mogul emperors. Even the English East India Company who started their career in India as a subordinate power to the Moguls struck the coins in the name of the reigning Mogul emperor. This practice was discontinued by the English only in the year 1837 when the Moguls were in a politically debilitating state.

However, you won’t find a single coin carrying the image of any of the Mogul emperor. Moguls were known for their religious syncretism but they remained Muslim throughout the period. As is well known, idolatry is prohibited in Islam. Thus, the Moguls refrained from inscribing their image on their coins. But they compensated this with beautiful calligraphy. The Mogul coins remained as some of the most excellent examples of aesthetics and artistic excellence in Indian coinage.

The Decline of Coins in the Early Medieval India

Have you ever thought of life without money? Can you imagine a society where no one uses coins and currency in economic transactions? Though it may sound weird, it was the case in India at a certain point of time. After the fall of the mighty Gupta dynasty in the mid-6th century CE, several smaller states came into existence in India. The big cities of the earlier age were all in decline. With them declined trade and commerce. The prosperous days of Indo-Roman trade were gone. Under these circumstances, the economy of India became more agrarian and land-centric.

Based on these evidences several scholars has argued that the period between the fall of the Gupta dynasty (mid-6th century CE) and the commencement of the Muslim Sultanate rule in Delhi in the 13th century was marked by the emergence of porno gratis an Indian variety of feudalism. This same period is known among the historians of India as early medieval period. The scarcity of money, in the form of coins of course, was another major feature of this age.

So, how did the people buy goods or services in the absence of hard cash? The proponents of feudalism theory argued that the cowrie shells became the principal medium of exchange during this period. The cowrie shells had definite market value. They were used by merchants and ordinary people for small scale local transactions. Though long distance trading activities were in decline, some merchants still managed to export rice from the eastern part of India to Maldives. In exchange they brought cowrie shells from Maldives to use in the local market. The Indian Ocean trade was the main source of cowrie shells in the Indian market.

However, foreign merchants refused to accept cowrie shells in exchange of their products. Thus, the states were compelled to issue some debased and devalued copper and silver coins. Thus, there was not any absolute absence of coins. There were certainly some coins in circulation in the market. But these coins were no match with the coins of the Guptas. Gold coins became very rare in this period as they were not essential for an economy based on declining trade. The coins of this period also lacked the aesthetic quality and precision of the earlier period. They remained mere imitation of the earlier age.

Nevertheless, there are some scholars who countered the hypothesis of scarcity of coins in the early medieval India. John S. Deyell is one the champion of this counter-argument to the theory of shortage of coin. He suggested that the number of coins in circulation did not decline in this period. What was in decline was the value of the coins. As trade was in decline, people needed very little amount of hard cash for their sustenance. Moreover, the circulation of cowrie shells solved their problem of acquiring metal coins as there was a scarcity of silver supply in early medieval India. This shortage of silver came to known as the ‘Silver famine’. The opponent of the feudalism theory further argued that a human society could not exist completely abandoning trade and commerce. Salt and iron are two essential commodities for sustenance and they are not available everywhere. Thus, people had to engage in some sort of economic transaction to procure these video porno products.

Well, now-a-days our economy is again leading towards a system where carrying and transacting via hard cash is becoming obscure day by day. Digital and plastic money is becoming more convenient. It is interesting to note that the idea of inventing the alternatives to hard cash is not at all new. People in the early medieval age, too, look for the alternatives and they found cowrie shells.

Numismatics: The Study of Coin

Now-a-days most of our economic transactions are controlled by electronic technology. However, the importance of hard cash has not been diminished. Since c.700 BCE human beings are using pieces of metals in exchange of goods or services. We called these pieces of metals as coins. Coins are everywhere in our daily life even in this age of plastic money. We used them in malls, markets, restaurants, and in numerous other places. The scientific study of coins is known as Numismatics. Also the hobby of collecting various types of coins is included within the discipline of numismatics.

The term ‘numismatics’ is derived from Latin numismatis which means coin. Its earliest use in English can be traced back to 1829.

The numismatists analyzed the materials of the coins. Their study also included the identification of the source of metals used, the classification of the coins according to their shape, time period and issuing authority. Ancient coins are generally found in hoards, or sometimes as stray individual finds. The numismatists study those coins and prepare their report. These scholarly reports are of immense importance to the historians. Numismatists provided the historians with the raw data about the material condition of people of the past. The historians used those data in writing his accounts of the past. On the basis of the information supplied by the numismatists the historian can determine the chronology of a particular ruler, the extent of his rule, the material condition of the common people under his rule, the condition of trade and commerce, etc.

The numismatists used several scientific methods to study the metal content of the coins. These included the use of modern X-ray Fluorescence spectrometry. The increasing use of modern technologies in the field of numismatics is greatly beneficial to obtain accurate results quickly.

The Renaissance in Europe witnessed an enthusiasm among the people to collect antiques of the Classical age. This is the same age when we met the first of the numismatists. Although there must have been earlier instances of collecting coins, they were not sufficiently documented. The famous Renaissance personality Petrarch is often credited as the first of the coin collectors during Renaissance. Guillaume Bude wrote the first authoritative text on coins in the year 1514. His book came to be known as ‘De Asse et Partibus’. Several famous royal personalities were interested in numismatics. Even the Pope Boniface VIII (1230-1303) was a collector of coins. Some of the famous modern numismatists included Charles Seltman, the British archaeologist; David Hendin, the American expert of Jewish and Biblical coins; and Guido Bruck, an Austrian numismatist specializing in late Roman period.

In modern days, both the professional scholarly activities of the scientific study of coins and  the amateurish enthusiasm of collecting coins is largely dominated by organized bodies. Most of these organizations came into being during the 19th century or early-20th century. Some of the famous organizations dealing with numismatics are The Royal Numismatic Society and The British Numismatic Society in Britain and The American Numismatic Society. The Royal Numismatic Society published a renowned scholarly journal, the Numismatic Chronicle. The American Journal of Numismatics is also a critically acclaimed scholarly journal. It was first published in 1866.

Besides these bodies almost all the governments patronized numismatics through their respective Archaeological departments. As numismatics is an integral part of the archaeological explorations, almost every archaeological department has separate sections to deal with the coins.

Numismatics is growing in its popularity worldwide. Many local societies and clubs all over the world are facilitating its growth. Certainly, the “hobby of the kings” is no more confined only within the palaces and among the royalties.

The Indo-Greek Coins

South Asia, and more precisely the modern state of India has experienced the incursion of several tribes throughout its history. Many of the famous military generals of the world had made their mark in the territories of South Asia. The Greek military genius Alexander also attacked north western India albeit without much success. The invasion of Alexander took place in the year of 326 BCE. However, he succeeded in establishing several Greek colonies. He left some of his military generals and soldiers to occupy and rule his Indian and Central Asian conquests. These Greek generals came to be known as Indo-Greeks in the history. They ruled roughly during the period between mid-3rd century BCE when Diodotus I established an independent kingdom to early 1st century BCE film porno when they were overwhelmed by the Parthians and the Shakas.

Their rule extended over a vast part of central Asia and north western South Asia. It included the modern areas of Afghanistan, north western part of Pakistan, the Indian provinces of Kashmir and Punjab. There were several dynasties and over 40 rulers of the Indo-Greek lineage who ruled over this extended time period. And surprisingly the main sources of information about the rule of these numerous kings are the numismatic evidences.

The Indo-Greek coins inaugurated a new phase in the history of South Asian coinage. These coins carried elaborate details about their issuing authority. The name, the issuing year of the coin and a portrait of the reigning monarch was die-struck very precisely on the metal pieces.

We can identify elaborate measures of coin circulation in the Indo-Greek territory. The coins circulated in the north of the Hindu Kush Mountains were mainly made of gold, silver, copper and nickel. They were struck according to Attic weight standard. The obverse of the coins carried the portrait of the issuing monarch. The reverse of the coin was marked by the depiction of Greek gods and goddesses. The name of the monarch and his royal titles were also mentioned in the reverse in porno Greek.

The coins which were circulated in the south of the Hindu Kush bear more Indian touch. They were mostly made of silver and copper. Most of these coins are of round shape, while some of them are square. These coins were struck according to Indian weight standard. They bear the royal portrait on the obverse. But their reverse was marked by Indian religious symbols rather than Greek. These type of coins also carried bilingual and bi-script inscriptions using the Greek and Prakrit languages; and Greek and Kharosthi or Brahmi porn scripts.

The Indo-Greek coins have been found in large numbers in the modern Afghanistan. The largest number of coins was discovered from Gardez. This hoard is known as the Mir Zakah hoard. It yielded 13,083 coins. Among these large number of coins 2,757 were Indo-Greek coins. Other major finds are the hoard found at Khisht Tepe near Qunduz and the coins found during excavations at the city of Ai-Khanoum.

The Indo-Greek coins are very important source of ancient Indian history. Out of 42 Indo-Greek kings who ruled, about 34 kings are known only through their coins. Coins of such kings as Menander depicted them slowly progressing from their teenage to old age, which also indicated their long reigns. The high standard of coinage set by the Indo-Greeks worked as a model for several other Indian dynasties for a very long period of time. The representation of Indian religious figures and symbols in the Indo-Greek coins has a greater significance for the cultural history of South Asia. This illustrated the syncretism of the Indo-Greek rulers. A sort of cultural and religious fusion between India and Greece can be traced from these coins.

A Short History of Indian Coins

The earliest references to coins in the Indian context have been found in the Vedas. Though Vedas are primarily religious texts, they are not solely concerned about Yoga, spirituality or after-life. Rather there are numerous references to ‘nishka’ and ‘nishka-griva’ which are believed to be earliest specimens of Indian coinage.

Another breakthrough in the Indian coinage can be traced back to 6th century BCE. Several small states emerged in the northern India during this period. The trading activities grew rapidly. We came across several terms such as the nishka, karshapana, shatamana, vimshatika which were coins of different weight and value. Interestingly, the weight-system of the coins was based on the red and black seeds of a particular variety of tree called Abrus precatorius. The coins of this age were mainly made of silver and copper. They are known among the numismatists as punch-marked coins. Punch-marked coins did not show any great instance of artistic expertise.

But the coins of the next age which was circulated in India were destined to be the best examples of artistic expertise. They were issued by the Indo-Greek kings of north western India. These coins were found in large numbers in various places of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. These coins are significant because they carry detail information about the issuing monarch, the year of issue and sometimes even an image of the reigning king. Coins were mainly made of silver, copper, nickel and lead.

The reign of the Gupta dynasty is described by some historians and scholars as the ‘Golden age’ age. And this is quite evident from their coins. Numismatists have found number of gold coins of this dynasty. These coins are also rich in details of their issuing authority. The gold coins of the Guptas were known as dinaras. The writings on these coins were in Sanskrit. These coins depicted the reigning monarch in different poses.

Apart from the coins another major medium of exchange xxx in the early Indian market was the cowrie shell. Cowrie shells were used in large numbers by the ordinary masses for small scale economic transactions. It is said that the cowrie shells carried definite value in the market just as the coins.

With the fall of the Gupta dynasty in mid-6th century CE there was a marked decline in commercial activities in Northern India. This period is also significant in the history of Indian coinage because the decline of monetary system. The decline of coinage can be noted in their number, their appearance, and value.

However, the situation changed with the invasion of the Turks in 11th and 12th century CE. Vast areas of northern India came under the rule of the Sultans. Trade and commerce with West Asia was again flourishing. The various dynasties of the Delhi sultans issued silver and copper coins. The inscriptions on the coins were mainly in Perso-Arabic script. Interestingly the coins did not bear any image of the issuing monarch. The reason was the prohibition of idolatry in Islam.

Muhammad binTughlaq, one of the sultans of 14th century was famous for his monetary reforms. He circulated bronze and copper coins and token paper currency. However, his measures failed miserably as his subjects resorted to wholesome forgery of the currency notes. Ultimately he had to withdraw the currency notes.

The Great Moguls of 16th and 17th century issued coins closely resembling other Central Asian dynasties. Sher Shah, a ruler for a very short period of time in the mid-16th century was a bitter enemy of the Mughals. He is also remembered for his introduction of a kind of silver coin namely xxx rupee. Interestingly, in India money is still known as rupiya.

The Moguls were succeeded by the East India Company’s colonial rule. The Company rule brought the monetary system of India in direct connection with the global economic system. However, the name of the Indian currency continued to be rupee under the Company rule.

Interesting facts and news about coins and numismatics

Gold and Switzerland
Even for the Egyptians 4000 years ago gold was a symbol of seignory representation. But the Egyptians considered gold also as a symbol of the sun and awarded to it healing and lifegiving power.
«Faszination Gold» is the name of the issue 2000/1 of the magazine «Kunst + Architektur» (that is «Art + Architecture») in Switzerland (www.gsk.ch). To this magazine you may refer, if you want to know how the Swiss goldwatch has become a status symbol or how rich in gold the Helvetians were. Furthermore it is the question about how the diplomatic effect of English gold was or how the French revolution distributed gold for interior decoration. As well you may read about the healing effect the alchemists accredit to the «aurum potabile», the so-called drinkable gold.

A Case for Brussels?
A report of an archaeological find in Pattensen in the county of Hanover, Germany was covered in the April edition of the magazine Archäologie in Deutschland (Archaeology in Germany): A Roman gold coin was found at a gravesite with the image of the Emperor Valentinian II of Trier (383-392 AD), dating from the time of the migration of the peoples. Because the reverse was undoubtedly struck with a circular harrow, the archaeologists could deduce that the gold coin was actually made of a silver alloy. The worthless counterfeit coin however, showed a remarkable level of forgery excellence. This coin was most probably made by a professional counterfeiter working closely with the imperial mint of Trier (France). Perhaps the Germanic soldiers in service to the Roman rulers were paid with counterfeit money.
Certainly there is no fear of the development of diplomatic tension between Rome and Berlin as a result of this Roman counterfeit money. However, the contemporary critic must pose this question: Just what will we undergo with the minting of the Euro? Brussels will need not only politicians with the gift of gab, but learned and alert technical advisors!
The Treasure Island of the Vikings
Scientific American Discovering Archaeology reports in the September/October, 2000 edition of a new archaeological find of a large hoard of silver coins on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
During the time of the Vikings (8th century AD) this largest island of the Baltic Sea was a significant trade location. Its inhabitants grew affluent over the centuries and buried their hoards in times of emergency. In 1999, archaeologists found a silver hoard weighing 70 kilograms making it the largest silver hoard found up until today. The Gotland coin hoard contains in all, 1,400,000 coins, 70,000 alone originating from Europe (England, Germany, Denmark and Sweden). The other 70,000 coins originated from the Arabian world and prove the long trade routes that the businessmen covered.
The Vikings are known for their grand metal craftwork. Silver was for them the most popular metal used for jewellery – astounding when one realizes that not even one silver mine exists in all of Scandinavia. Silver must have been imported. Acquiring silver coins in order to melt them down to create a new form must have been one of the means of getting the rare and popular metal to the north.
The northern treasure island of Gotland has relinquished many a coin and silver hoard over time. Why these hoards were buried still remains a dark secret of videos pornos.
Counterfeiters?
During the excavation of a fountain vault of the Roman city of Augusta Raurica in Augst, Switzerland, archaeologists came upon an obvious ancient crime scene. The archaeologists found the skeletons of five murdered people along with the indication of counterfeit coins. The excavators came upon the four-meter high subterranean domed room with an artesian well in 1998. The domed construction was fully excavated in 1999. Indications of a violent blow was found on one of the bones. Another surprising find for the archaeologists was the some 6000 terracotta forms in which third century coins were molded: officially authorized or a sign of criminality?
History lives on because man’s imagination is immortal.

Gold Coins and Psychology
«If you bought gold – bars or coins – you have to be able to forget the price you paid.»
This drastic quote coming from a disappointed investor indicates the amount of money invested in gold coins. After a few short upward curves for the price of an ounce of pure gold, to which the price of gold coins closely follows, the price went downwards from a yearly average in 1980 of 700 $ US to the current 280 $ US. Out of the many reasons why, the strongest is the constant threat of the selling off of gold by the central banks. Those who insist on buying gold coins must collect for their ideal worth, timeless beauty and have knowledge of its historical value. In the sense of investing, «worthless» gold coins will gain in individual value by the pure joy of collecting beauty.

Even Money has its Fate
«Banknotes and coins with a value of 16.2 million Deutsch marks have burned, been damaged, discolored or gone rotten in forgotten piggybanks in Germany last year» as reported by the Bundesverband Deutscher Banken (Federal Association of German Banks). The damaged money is certainly not automatically worthless. The Deutsche Bundesbank as a rule will replace the money fast and without cost only on the condition that the owner presents more than half of the banknote or has proof that more than half of the note had been destroyed.
Often the neighborhood bank can help by replacing a slightly damaged note when the note was, say, washed in the washing machine. However, serious damage should be brought to the attention of the state-owned Central Banks. There they have machines that verify its authenticity and worth. Qualified technicians can then further examine the notes and decide the claim.
In special cases, like when only ashes remain after a fire, they should be sent to the department of the directorate of the Central Bank in Frankfurt where thirty experts examine the remains. Through the wonders of modern technology they are often able to determine just how much money they’re dealing with and if it is genuine. Up to 20,000 times a year the Bundesbank experts are called on to help.
Clearance Sale on Current Coins
Many of the estimated 500,000 coin collectors in Germany have specialized in current coins: these are coins that are currently in circulation. Some speculate that the course will go «through the roof because this is the end». For the first time in the history of coin collecting, it’s been known four years in advance when the coins will be taken out of circulation. Other monetary standards were put through in a far shorter time period. Collectors are able to complete an incomplete series – but at the same time this pushes the price for coins of smaller editions way up. Some secretive hobby-archaeologists will probably find themselves searching solemnly through their address books for acquaintances whose piggybanks they’d be allowed to take a peek in.
However, those whose goal is collecting for speculation, will collect uncirculated coins. Almost certainly, only coins in absolute mint condition can be expected to appreciate in value. An uncirculated set (from one pfennig to the 5 mark piece) costs about 140 Deutsch marks, the polished plate twice as much. In any case, pfennigs have not been minted for circulation since 1997.

Interesting facts & discoveries about coins

Finally found: the ancient Heraklion
«Lights of history», that’s how Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, a universal savant from Zurich in the 18th century, called coins. What fingerprints are for criminal investigations, that’s what coins are for historians: a medium for identification, a way to light up unknown and clandestine things.
The information on coins is currently pivotal in a spectacular case. According to recent reports, French aquanaut Frank Goddio has found a sensational trove: the ancient Heraklion. He found this immersed town not off shore from Crete, but more in the south of the Mediterranean, near the Egypt town of Alexandria. Besides a well-preserved and lettered stele, which provides information about its habitat, there have been three broken statues. Two of them can now be identified due to comparisons with coins from the 1st millennium BC.

The Euro – just a holiday love affair?
«Nordic Gold», that’s the name of the alloy the Euro-coins are made of. A cool name for an object heating presently so many minds.
Thus, will the new money ever be loved? Scarcely in this year, as Hans Eichel – at the time Federal Chancellor of the Exchequer of Germany – said. But next year, so he continued, this will change. Then the people will hold the new bills and coins in the hand – and then the people will realize that there is no more need for changing money for a holiday in Europe.
Well, the Chancellor of Exchequer will be right on both accounts. But he forgot that it will also be possible to compare all prices throughout Europe. And then, the holiday love affair may break off in the one or the other case. As it happens so often …

It is always springtime for counterfeiters
Should you plan to travel to one of the Euro-land countries in the months ahead, make sure you take a careful look at all bills and coins you get there. First, those currencies will be redeemed shortly, and secondly, they might be counterfeits!
In fact, counterfeiters don’t need any spring. Their «flowers» always blossom. Especially now, at the time of the biggest exchange of currencies in European history! That will mean that previous counterfeits will become worthless shortly – a good reason for counterfeiters to bring their counterfeits into circulation, especially among the tourists. Which tourist knows exactly how the real bill looks like? But it’s well worth looking carefully.
A currency union is a good way to make life miserable for counterfeiters. But not even the EURO is safe from them. The individual member states are free to design the front side of any euro coin themselves. That guarantees diversity, but also cracks in the security system.
Spectacular findings on the Atlantis-myth
Atlantis was a mythical and lost city even at the times of Plato in ancient Greece. That hasn’t changed up to our days. However, the riddle seems to be solved as a result of the new, spectacular exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany. The thesis worked out by Zurich-based archaeologist Eberhard Zangger: Atlantis is nothing else than Troja at the northern border of today’s Turkey. The probably oldest city tale appears to be lifted, finally.
But is it really? Read more about it in the article «The Battle for Troja» (so far in German only) and Zangger’s home-page – it is a fight among the titans of archaeology on a subject which is thousands of years old.

Garbage money
On the first of January 2002 Euro banknotes and coins will be put into circulation. Until that time 14.5 billion Euro banknotes must be manufactured at a staggering cost of 600 billion Deutsch marks. Ten billion bills need to be exchanged for the old national banknotes.
Starting in 2002 Europeans will finally get their hands on the Euro. One years grace is given to say goodbye to old Deutsch mark and carry it to the grave. But are they really simply going to be buried in the garden? According to plan the Landeszentralbank (State Central Bank) of Munich will not just destroy a mountain of 2.8 billion notes. After all, if the notes were laid one on top of the other it would create a tower 323 kilometers high weighing 700,000 tons.
Yet, even though coins can simply be melted and the metal separated, the cotton fibers in paper money make it much more complicated to recycle.