Museum Home Collections Ancient Period
Ancient Period

Cowry, Silver Punch-marked coins, 'Bent-bar', Saucer shaped coins of Gandhar Janapada, Copper cast coins, Kushana Gold and Copper coins, Indo-Parthian, Indo-Greek, Indo-Schythian and Indo-Sassanian, Gold and Silver coins of Gupta era, and Harikela silver coins etc.

  1. Cowries: Cowries, a particular type of shell are displayed here also. From the immemorial to recent past up to 19th century, cowries were used as a currency for small trade or exchange in Bengal. Still now we do not know particularly when the cowries were introduced as a medium of exchange in Bengal. In the mediaeval period, these cowries were imported from Maldives by exporting rice to use them as a coin. Cowries are mainly a shield of a sea animal.

  2. Silver Punch-marked coins: Silver Punch-marked coins- are the oldest coins of Bengal as well as of the Indian subcontinent. These coins were struck and circulated in the Mauryan period, during 4th century B.C to 2nd century A.D. Manufacturing process is the main reason for the nomenclature of these coins. Generally these coins were manufactured by cutting a certain amount of metal from the silver sheet or by melting the metal or by dropping it on a hard object then stamping the metal with a certain die. One to five symbols or sometimes more than five symbols were stamped on these ancient coins. There were no name of the issuer or his effigy or any indication but certain symbols were stamped on the coins obverses. The common symbols are sun, mountain or hill, hill top crescent, river, boat, tree, fish, bird, elephant, tiger, bull, rhinoceros, snake, arches etc. Two types of punch-marked coins have been found in Bangladesh, viz. Janapada or Local coins and Imperial series coins. Janapada or local coins have been discovered from a limited area and not found outside that particular area having up to 4 symbols on its obverses. Imperial series coins are found from various places all over the sub-continent having 5 symbols on its obverses. It is presumed that those coins were struck and circulated during the Mauryan period. So, these coins are called Imperial series coins. The Silver Punch-marked coins and coin hoard have been found at Wari-Bateshwar and Mahasthangarh in Bangladesh through archeological excavations. Besides, Silver Punch-marked coins are also being found from Baigachha of Rajshahi, Fetgram of Naogaon, Sahebganj of Gaibandha and from Natore. Thus it can be stated that, these coins were used widely across ancient Bengal. The coins are found in round, oval, rectangular, square or pentagonal shapes. In addition one type of bent shaped coins is being displayed in Showcase no 1 which is known as 'Bent-bar'. These coins were circulated in Gandhar Janapada. Saucer shaped coins of Gandhar Janapada and copper cast coins of the Shunga period (1st to 2nd century A.D) are also being displayed here.

  3. Harikela Silver Coins: Harikela was a kingdom of ancient Bengal. These coins were in circulation within this kingdom during the period of 7th to 9th Century A.D. The obverse of these coins contains the portrait of an incumbent bull, the legend Harikela written in the Brahmi script above it. The reverse displays a tripartite symbol (Trixula). It is assumed that, nomenclature of these coins was taken from the name of the kingdom. As far it is known, Harikela kingdom was stretched from present day Sylhet to Chittagong-Noakhali region along with Comilla-Mainamati region. A huge quantity of Harikela coins have been discovered from the archaeological excavation of Mainamati in Comilla.

Related links