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Too curious coins: square coins

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Square or rectangular coins appeared in India and from there they spread to the West, remaining in various cultures throughout the centuries. Here we can see some significant examples of the ancient cultures that issued coins more to less quadrangular. However, the most important civilizations (Greece and Rome) preferred not to use these curious modules and for this reason they are so shocking.

This coin was round, but has subsequently been trimmed. It is a Nero denarius (2.2 g) struck at Lugdunum (54-68 AD). that has been converted into a pendant to be used as an ornament or amulet. The accidental fact that the minting axes would have been 90 ° stands out, since, despite the cutout and the hole, both sides perfectly show the main motifs.

The currency, as it had begun to be issued in Asia Minor, reached the Indian subcontinent through the Achaemenid Empire. The Persians, who made their payments in silver by the peso, began to become familiar with the coins of Ancient Greece during the 6th-5th centuries BC, in such a way that during this time different local governors began to adopt this new payment system. In the Kabul area, that is, the eastern reaches of the empire, probably in the middle of the 5th century BC, the local authorities produced imitative silver pieces of the first Greek coins, with simple geometric or animal designs on both sides. They consisted of silver blanks of about 11 grams. weight with a perforated mark on each side. Further east, in the Gandhara region (eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan), during the same period, some 11 g bullion-shaped coins became popular. rectangular weights with two perforated wheel-shaped symbols on both sides, which were surely issued until the time of Alexander’s conquests.


After these events, pieces of silver would soon appear in the kingdoms of the Ganges basin in northeast India. The kingdom of Kasi began to issue oval silver pieces of around 6 grams. of weight with four symbols perforated in the obverse in the shape of a wheel, probably like a variant of the Gandhara ingots. These pieces served as inspiration for the issuance of those that later circulated in other neighboring kingdoms such as Kosala, Shakya or Ashmaka, giving rise to silver coins of different sizes and shapes with one or more symbols perforated on the obverse, a model that would be fully also adopted by the kingdom of Magadha, which at the end of the 5th or early 4th century began to mint coins with five different symbols on the obverse, giving rise to the first karshapanas.

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