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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
October, 1904, pp591‑637

The text is in the public domain:
Robert Sewell died in 1925.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p591  Roman Coins Found in India​a
By Robert Sewell

I have attempted, in the lists which accompany this paper, to collect and classify all discoveries of Roman coins made in India during the last century and a half, which have been regularly recorded in English scientific publications; adding to them some remarks on finds which, though not so published, it is impossible for me to ignore, since they came under my own observation. It is perhaps hardly necessary for me to enter on an elaborate explanation of the reasons why such tabulated information may be held to be of value, seeing that obviously, if the lists are accurate and exhaustive, a classification such as this assumes the nature of an index to a volume, or, as in the present case, to a very large number of volumes.

To draw up the lists I have searched through the following publications:—

The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

The Numismatic Chronicle

The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal

The Proceedings of the same Society

The Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

 p592  The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the same

The Madras Journal of Literature and Science

The Indian Antiquary

The Asiatic Researches

The Annual Reports of the Madras Archaeological Survey

The Annual Reports of the Epigraphical Department of the same Survey

The Annual Reports of the Archaeological Surveys of the Panjāb, North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Bengal, and Western India (some of which, however, have not reached me)

Sir A. Cunningham's Archaeological Reports

The Epigraphica Indica

Catalogues of Coins prepared by the Superintendents of the Madras Government Central Museum

And many other volumes.

I have done my best to ensure that no information published in any of these works should escape me, but it stands to reason that omissions may have unfortunately occurred, owing to such causes as the absence of an index in many cases, especially troublesome in the issues of "Proceedings" of Societies. If, therefore, anyone can supplement the lists with information coming from authentic sources, I shall be the first to welcome such additions.

Let me admit at the outset that the deductions drawn from such lists as these must of necessity be merely tentative and provisional. In the first place, it is, in the nature of things, impossible for us ever to know anything of the coins discovered in the centuries prior to the English occupation of the various parts of British India. Secondly, there must have been innumerable discoveries of coins which have passed into private collections, and are, at least temporarily, lost to the scientific world. There must also be reports of finds published in scattered volumes, in newspaper issues, in magazines, and in reviews, many of which must elude the observation of any one man, however industrious. The information available to us, therefore, consists of only a fraction of the whole, and we could be perfectly certain of our ground only if we possessed that whole. Even so we can only theorize from discoveries made up to date, and are always liable to have our ideas upset by discoveries in the future.

 p593  An examination of the Tables compels us to observe five different periods in the connection of Rome with India, and leads us to the following conclusions:—

1. There was hardly any commerce between Rome and India during the Consulate.

2. With Augustus began an intercourse which, enabling the Romans to obtain Oriental luxuries during the early days of the empire, culminated about the time of Nero, who died A.D. 68.

3. From this time forward the trade declined till the date of Caracalla (A.D. 217).

4. From the date of Caracalla it almost entirely ceased.

5. It revived again, though slightly, under the Byzantine emperors.

And as regards the objects of the trade:—

(a) Under the early emperors there was a great demand for pepper, spices, fine muslins, perfumes, unguents, pearls, and precious stones, especially the beryl.

(b) In the declining period between Nero and Caracalla there was little or no demand for mere luxuries, and the activity of merchants was directed towards cotton and industrial products.

(c) Under the Byzantine emperors the trade was mostly with Travancore and the south-west coast, commerce with the interior and the Dekhan country having declined.

These assertions will be now dealt with separately.

The First Period

There seems to have been little trade between India and Rome in the years preceding the reign of Augustus. If there were any it would seem that Indian imports did not include Roman specie. The only Consular coins hitherto found​1 have been seven silver denarii discovered by  p594 Capt. A. Court in 1830 in one of the Manikyāla stupas, and eight out of twenty-three coins recovered from the natives who, in 1898, found a hoard in the Hazāra District of the Panjāb. The rest of the hoard apparently passed into the hands of the dealers at Rāwal Pindi. Trade there may have been, and probably was, along the old routes that had existed for hundreds of years; but Rome did not spread eastwards till the later years of the Consulate; Palmyra had not then opened its doors to adventurous Roman merchants; there could have been little traffic along the desert tracks that led to Petra and the Gulf of Akabah, and still less to Yemen or the Persian Gulf; and though Alexandria was taken by Julius Caesar in B.C. 47, the sea-borne trade must have been small in those days and very uncertain, being conveyed as it was in Arab boats along a coast infested with pirates. Whatever exports found their way to Europe from India at that period went probably to Greece rather than to Rome.

The Second Period

The Imperial age of Rome, however, from Augustus down to Nero, saw a great change in this respect. With Augustus began a period of Asiatic conquest. Roman influence at Palmyra began to be felt in the later years of that emperor, and the occupation of Palestine opened up for Roman merchants the trade-route to Petra and the head of the Sinaitic Gulf. Alexandria, the principal emporium of trade between East and West, was now in Roman hands. Rome was a world power; its emperors were supreme, and the internal dissensions that eventually led to the overthrow of the State had not begun. Hence arose on the part of the wealthy an unrestrained indulgence in Eastern luxuries that greatly shocked the more sober-minded citizens of Rome. Pliny, for instance, writing about A.D. 70 or thereabouts (after the death of the Empress Poppaea in A.D. 66), lifts up his voice against it, lamenting the wasteful extravagance of the richer classes and their reckless expenditure on  p595 perfumes, unguents, and personal ornaments, saying that a hundred million sesterces​2 were withdrawn from the empire annually to purchase useless Oriental products, "so dearly do we pay for our luxury and our women."

About the year A.D. 47 the regularity of the monsoons in the Indian Ocean was discovered, and ships began for the first time to sail direct to Muziris (Muyirikõḍu) in Malabar; a course which gave great impetus to Indian commerce, since it added immensely to the security of the cargoes, which no longer had to fear the attacks of Arabs on caravans crossing the deserts or of pirates on vessels hugging the coast.

The demand on India in Rome was mostly for spices, pepper, perfumes, ivory, fine muslins, precious stones, and cottons, and those were supplied mostly from the west coast ports. The most highly prized of the stones was the beryl, only found in India in one place, namely, Paḍiyūr in the Coimbatore District, or at most in two, Vāṇiyambāḍi in the Salem District being also said to possess a mine; and these beryls were believed to be the best and purest in the world. It is in the neighbourhood of these mines that the largest number of Roman coins of the period we are considering (Augustus to Nero) have been found. It will be observed that almost all the articles mentioned here were products of the south of India, though no doubt some of the perfumes came from the rose-gardens of the north, while the cottons were prepared in the Dekhan, and the muslins mostly at Masulipatam and the country about there.

It is for this reason probably that so many Roman coins have been found in and near the Coimbatore District and at Madura, the capital city of the Pāṇḍyan kingdom, while the finds in the north of India have been by no means so numerous.

Another reason for the dearth of coins in the north has, however, been given, and it deserves every consideration. It concerns the Scythian conquest of North-West India and the  p596 ultimate supremacy of the Kuṣanas. General Cunningham, Mr. Vincent Smith, and Mr. Rapson concur in the belief​3 that the great Kuṣana kings, whose annexation of North-West India took place, according to Mr. Smith, in A.D. 95, recoined the Roman aurei, issuing from their mints their own coins of precisely the same weight. I understand these authorities to mean either that the Roman gold coins were melted down in a mass and new coins issued from the metal, having exactly the weight of the aurei for the reason that the Kuṣanas admired that coin; or else that each aureus was melted separately and restruck. In any case this would, of course, account for the paucity of finds of Roman coins in North India at the present day as compared with finds in the south; since in the latter country these coins appear to have circulated just as they came. That the Scythian conquest did not injuriously affect Roman trade with North India would seem to be evidenced, as pointed out by Mr. Smith, by the fact that the sculpture, painting, and other arts of that tract were as largely influenced by Rome as they had formerly been by Greece; and if such was the case we can only account for the absence of coins in North India in two ways — either the coins imported were collected, melted, and restruck, or the trade itself, though encouraged, was small. Certain it is that the exports to Rome of which we have mention in classical writers were mostly products of South India and the Dekhan.

We turn now to the Tables themselves and analyze the reported discoveries in India of considerations of this period, i.e. the eighty years from Augustus to Nero.

In North India I find a satisfactory record of only one discovery, namely, some denarii of Augustus and Tiberius in the Hazāra District, Panjāb; twelve of Augustus and two of Tiberius were recovered, the rest passing into the hands of dealers.

In Southern India we have in actual numbers 612 gold  p597 coins and 1187 silver, besides hoards discovered which are severally described as follows: — of gold coins "a quantity amounting to five cooly-loads"; and of silver coins (1) "a great many in a pot," (2) "about 500 in an earthen pot," (3) "a find of 163," (4) "some," (5) "some thousands," enough to fill "five or six Madras measures," i.e. perhaps a dozen quart measures; also, (6) of metal not stated, "a pot-full." These coins are the product of fifty-five separate discoveries mostly in the Coimbatore and Madura Districts.

In the Bombay Presidency I have not found a trace of any discovery of coins of this period; and in ceylon only one, viz. certain coins alluded to by De Couto as having been found in A.D. 1574. These were attributed, but apparently on very slender grounds, to Claudius. It is curious that we have no recorded finds of Roman coins in the neighbourhood of the great commercial centres of the Bombay Presidency.

It will be well to note here the list of exports and imports from and to India mentioned by the author of the Periplūs (A.D. 80), seeing that these refer mostly to the period we are considering. Leaving aside its mention of the commerce at ports west of the Indus, the Periplūs gives us the following list:​4

 p598  Exports from Barugaza (Bharoch)

Onyx stones

Porcelain (probably from China)

Fine muslins and others. (The finest muslins came from the neighbourhood of Masulipatam.)

Cottons in large quantity (from the Dekhan and eastern districts)

Spikenard (probably from the north)

Perfumes (κόστος)

Bdellium (a gum)

Ivory, myrrh, silk, and pepper also seem to be included, though the expression in the text is dubious.

Exports from Barakē
(Nelkunda; probably Kaḍaltuṇḍi, near Beypore)

Pepper in great quantity



Fine silks (possibly from China)



Precious stones




It must also be specially noticed as bearing on the question of coins found respectively in North and South India that whereas the Periplūs mentions "specie" in one word as imported to Bharoch, he gives as his first entry in the list of imports to the southern port "great quantities of specie" (χρήματα πλείστα).

It is curious that the author of the Periplūs does not mention the beryl as an article of export from South India, seeing that Pliny​5 specially alludes to it, saying that the best kind came from India. It seems to be a fact that this stone, the highly prized aqua marina of the Romans, was only found in one place (or possibly two)​6 in India, namely, at Paḍiyūr, in the District of Coimbatore. The only other places where this stone is found are in North and South America and Siberia, which countries were unknown to the Romans; and, in inferior quality, in parts of Europe, one being at Limoges. Ptolemy,​7 writing half a century after the Periplūs, speaks of πουννάτα ἐν ἧ βήρυλλος, "Punnāta, whence comes the beryl." As to the name 'Punnāta,' Mr. Lewis Rice has pointed out that this was the name of an ancient division in the extreme south of the old Kongu kingdom, at a later date called 'Paḍināḍ.' The last syllable 'nāḍ' means a tract or district, and when for this is substituted the common name for a town in Dravidian tongues, 'ūr,' we have the word Paḍiyūr, which is the known locale of the beryl-mines. And though Paḍiyūr lies sixty miles from the Mysore frontier, it is quite possible  p599 that in Roman days it formed part of the Kongu or Chera kingdom. Since large numbers of Roman gold coins have been found near this place, we can have no doubt of the identity of the locality.

The Third Period

The third period begins with the death of Nero (A.D. 68) and ends with Caracalla (A.D. 217).

Though there was a rapid increase of geographical knowledge of India in Rome during this period, it seems almost certain that the commerce itself suffered a decline. Of the emperors who flourished between Nero and Caracalla only thirty-two gold coins can be counted as having been found in the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, the other finds being described as "a number" in one case and "a few" in another. And when we examine the locale of these discoveries we cannot fail to observe that whereas the coins belonging to the previous period have turned up in the tracts that provided spices and precious stones, the coins of this, third, period have mostly been found in a totally different locality. The former were unearthed principally in the country about Coimbatore, Madura, and the west coast; the latter come mostly from places further north. There have been only three finds in Madura of coins of this period, and none in Coimbatore or the west coast. The rest were discovered at Vinukoṇḍa in the Kistna District, in the Nellore and Cuddapah Districts, near Sholapur, and in Surat. These are cotton-growing countries. If, therefore, we had to judge solely from these coins, we should be compelled to assume that the trade with Rome in such luxuries as spices, perfumes, and precious stones almost entirely ceased after the death of Nero, and only a limited trade in necessaries, such as cotton fabrics, continued.

And I think we can see a reason for this in the condition of Rome itself and its upper classes. An Indian reason is not apparent, for we know very little of the political upheavals in South India at this period. It is of course  p600 possible that wars between Pāṇḍyans and Choḷas, or between Pāṇḍyans and Pallavas, resulted in an exodus from Madura of the Roman merchants who resided there, but such an argument can receive no prominence, as it can only be founded on the purest conjecture. Moreover, such political conditions in India as we do know of, viz. the supremacy in the North-West of the Śaka Kuṣanas, and the subsequent lowering of Śaka power by the great Āndhra kings, would not account for the seemingly sudden decline of commerce with South India after the death of Nero. It seems evident, therefore, that we must seek for the reason for this decline in the condition of Rome itself.

Certain it is that when at Nero's death the race of the Claudii became extinct Rome was convulsed by disputes about the succession, and that these disputes were followed by civil war. Galba reigned for six months only, and was murdered. Otho and Vitellius fought for the imperial throne, and the former put an end to himself after a nominal rule of three months. Vitellius ruled for eight months and was murdered, the capitol having been sacked by his followers.​8 When Vespasian secured the empire he proved of a totally different disposition to the Claudians. Simple and unostentatious, active and industrious, he discouraged all lavish display of luxury on the part of the nobles and devoted himself to reforms. It is probable, too, that the leaders of Roman society were themselves tired of the wanton extravagance and profligacy of the age that had passed; and that, as usual in such cases, their revolt against the excesses that had become scandalous took the form of a parsimony and self-denial that ran in the opposite extreme — a state of things that we ourselves have witnessed in England in the Puritan age. Vespasian issued several enactments to suppress the excesses of the nobles, and actually produced a great change in their mode of living.  p601 Merivale says: "The Romans themselves remarked the rise of a new era in social manners at this period. The simpler habits of the plebeians and the provincials prevailed over the reckless luxury and dissipation in which the highest classes . . . . had so long indulged." So that the demand in Rome for the products of the East, the spices and ivory, the silks and precious stones, the diaphanous muslins and costly adornments, ceased, and to these succeeded a commerce which was concerned principally with simple cotton fabrics.

Titus reigned for only two years. Domitian's cruelty and tyranny were such that during his reign there was no encouragement given to wealthy families to revert to the luxuries of the Claudian age. His successor, Nerva, had only a two-years' reign, remarkable for gentleness, economy, and retrenchment. Trajan, who followed, was a soldier and of simple habits. Hadrian's social example was all for good, at least for a time. Antoninus Pius led a blameless life. Marcus Aurelius was strict and self-denying in all his private relations. In fact, it seems clear that during this period the habits of Roman society had changed. And it is to this change that I venture to attribute the decline of Oriental commerce after the time of Nero, a decline still further hastened by the disorganization of the Empire which made rapid strides during and after the reign of Commodus.

In all probability Roman merchants continued to reside in Southern India either permanently or temporarily. The Peutingerian tables, which appear to have been copied from fresco paintings in Rome executed in the second century A.D., place near Muziris, or Muyirikōḍu (modern Cranganore, Kuḍaṇgalūr in the vernacular), a temple of Augustus; but no traces of this are known to exist, and it is impossible to say to which emperor it was dedicated. Dr. Caldwell considered​9 that these geographical tables or maps were prepared at a date somewhat earlier than Ptolemy.

 p602  The coins found in India during this period, and reported on, may be thus classified.

In Northern India a coin of Domitian (A.D. 81‑96) was found amongst twelve enclosed in a box, the rest belonging to my fourth period. Three aurei of Domitian, Trajan, and Sabina were discovered in the Ahin Posh Tope at Jelālābād. One denarius of Hadrian was found in the Hazāra District of the Panjāb.

In the Bombay Presidency only three finds, at Darphal, near Sholapur, Nagdhara, in the Surat District, and Waghode, in Khandeish, have been reported; in the first of which were a few coins of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138‑161), a few of Lucius Verus (161‑169), a few of Commodus (180‑192), several of Septimius Severus (193‑211), and one of Geta (211‑12); the darkness consisting of a single coin of Lucius Verus; and the third of a single coin of Septimius Severus.

In the Madras Presidency, in the Districts where such large numbers of the coins of the former period were discovered, we have for this period only four finds: one at Pudukōṭa, a native state not far from Madura, of three aurei of Vespasian; one at Kalliyamputtūr, in the Madura District, of five aurei of Domitian, and two of Cocceius Nerva (A.D. 96‑98); one in the Madura District (place not specified) of a single aureus of Domitian; and one of Antoninus Pius recovered from the great hoard of "five cooly-loads" of gold coins found at Kōṭṭayam, near Cannanore.10

The remainder were found in the cotton-growing districts, where, as before stated, few of the former period have been unearthed. These are (1) an aureus of Vespasian, one of Domitian, five of Hadrian, three of Antoninus Pius, two of Faustina the elder, wife of Antoninus Pius, two of Marcus Aurelius, one of Commodus, and one of Caracalla, found at Vinukoṇḍa, south of the Kṛishṇā river; a number of gold coins of Trajan, one of Hadrian, and one of Faustina the elder, near Nellore; and one of Trajan in the Cuddapah District.

 p603  After the death of Caracalla (A.D. 217) it would appear that trade ceased almost entirely.

The Roman Empire during all this period was a prey to confusion, internal and external. There was a rapid succession of weak rulers, perpetual discord, numberless assassinations and revolts, and general disturbance; while the Goths broke into Italy and ravaged the country. This in itself is quite sufficient to account for the cessation of trade with the East.

But certain other matters should also be considered. Firstly, when seeking to discover the cause for this serious decline of commercial activity we seem unable to attribute it altogether to the condition of the countries on the route to India. I shall go further into this question presently.

Secondly, Alexandria, though always turbulent and in large measure anti-Roman, was still flourishing up to the date of Caracalla, whose brutal treatment of the youth of that city could hardly have had the effect of putting an end to all Oriental commerce. Alexandria's decay did not begin for many years later, and it is probable that diminution of trade with the East was a cause rather than an effect of the decline of the great emporium in Egypt.

Thirdly, we know of nothing in India that would have put an end to commerce with Rome. North-West and West India were at this period under the Kshatrapas and Guptas, but these rulers appear to have been favourably disposed towards the Roman Empire, from which they had nothing to fear and everything to gain. Mr. Vincent Smith, in his article on Graeco-Roman influence in India published in 1889,​11 has fixed (p161) the year A.D. 150 as the earliest approximate date for Roman forms of architectural decoration reaching India, and he traces affinities in the Art of North-West India which would show that Roman influence lasted  p604 down to so late a date as A.D. 450 (p172). If he is right, therefore, we may be sure that the cessation of trade with Rome after Caracalla is not to be attributed to the political conditions existing in North or West India at that period.

Nor, fourthly, would it appear that there were any such conditions in Western and Southern India as would put a stop to external trade with those countries after the year 217 A.D. The Western Kshatrapas held their own in parts of what is now the Bombay Presidency till at least the time of Samudra Gupta, A.D. 350, being finally conquered by Chandragupta Vikramāditya about A.D. 401. Their arts and coinage prove them to have looked on Rome with favour. The Pallavas would appear to have been the ruling power at this period in the country south and east of the Kshatrapas, in succession to the Āndhras, and there is nothing to show that they were antagonistic to Roman trade. That the Āndhras favoured the Romans seems to be shown from the presence of Roman influence at Amarāvati. (Mr. Vincent Smith, in the article quoted, refers to this, p169.) We know little as to the history of the southern nations at this period, but as it is certain that the Pāṇḍyan kings, who were at that time were the paramount rulers of the south-western portion of the peninsula, had encouraged trade with the great European empire in earlier years, there is no reason to suppose that the stoppage of trade arose from any action of theirs. I shall show presently that there is good ground for the belief that their capital city, Madura, had much to do with the Romans.

We are therefore driven to find a reason elsewhere. And, differing from some writers who attribute the decay of trade solely to such causes as the strength of the Sassanid kings,​12 I am inclined to the belief that it is to the condition of Rome itself that we must look for the real cause of it. It seems clear to me that just as the demand for Oriental luxuries in Rome decreased when Roman manners underwent a change from lavish extravagance to simplicity under  p605 Vespasian, so the demand ceased altogether after Caracalla, when Rome was in too distracted a condition for its inhabitants to think of spending large sums of money on spices, perfumes, and ornaments. A certain amount of trade there no doubt was, but not a great deal. There may, of course, have been contributory influences at work, as the disturbed condition of Alexandria and the Sassanid hatred of Rome. But my contention is that the latter were secondary, not primary. I cannot agree with Priaulx, who holds​13 that Roman intercourse with India was at its height "during the reigns of Severus, Caracalla, and the Pseudo-Antonines." It is true that Palmyrene trade flourished abundantly till its fall in A.D. 273, but that was probably due rather to the military requirements order than to domestic demand for Oriental luxuries. Such trade as there was after the fall of Palmyra appears to have been carried on by the Arabs, who fixed on Adulē as their chief port.​14 Mr. Priaulx notices​15 the facilities given by the Sassanid kings of Persia to the overland route, their beneficent administration, and the protection they extended to merchants, but the principal trade thus aided appears to have been in Chinese silks.

The finds of coins belonging to this period are as follows:— Only one has been found in Southern or Western India. This is a coin of Constantius II (A.D. 337‑361) discovered in the Madura District, and it very possibly found its way to India after the revival of trade under the Eastern emperors.

In the north the discoveries relating to this period have been larger. Ten copper coins were found in a box (with one of Domitian and one of Theodosius) in "Upper India," the locality not being stated, the earliest being one of Gordian (A.D. 238), the latest one of Constantine (A.D. 306‑337). At Bāmanghati in Bengal there was "a great find" of gold coins, amongst which were some of Gordian. The  p606 other discoveries, if any, are indefinitely reported, and I can base no argument upon them.

Before quitting this fourth period it is advisable to refer to the condition of the countries lying between Syria and India during this and the third period, or between the reign of Nero and the fall of the Roman Western Empire, in order to judge of the probable effect of such condition on Roman Oriental trade. Previous writers have seen in the Parthian and Neo-Sassanid domination in Persia the true cause for the decline of that trade, and since to some extent I differ from them, and contend that this cause was only contributory, it is necessary shortly to summarize the situation. At about the time of Nero's death all Asia Minor had become Roman. Thirty years later Trajan was at war with the Parthians, his desire being to obtain command of the lines of international trade beyond the Tigris. But his successors, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, abandoned this policy, and there was peace between the two nations. From A.D. 161 to 227, however, when the Parthian Empire fell under the dominion of the Persian Sassanids, war was almost incessant, and there can be little doubt that caravan traffic from Northern India to the West must at this period have severely suffered. But this caravan traffic was at no time of paramount importance to Rome; for Roman influence was supreme in Syria, and the trade-routes from Palmyra to the southern ports lay open to merchants. It was by the sea, and after Claudius by the open sea, that the bulk of the merchandize from Indian south-coast ports was carried to the Arabian marts and Alexandria; and the Parthian wars must have increased rather than diminished the popularity of these routes. This also was the most flourishing period in the history of Palmyra, which was friendly to Rome and did not come into conflict with it till A.D. 267. So that, had the internal condition of Rome itself at this period led to a continued demand for Oriental luxuries, trade with India would have been abundant. The fall of Palmyra in 273 A.D. would have still further facilitated this commerce had the Romans of that date seen any necessity for extending  p607 it; and the very fact that they destroyed the city and abandoned it serves as an additional proof that the trade itself had by that time seriously declined.

Señor Lopes​16 considers that the decay of Roman trade with India was largely due to Sassanid encouragement of Persian maritime commerce, which practically swept the Roman vessels off the Indian seas; but it must be remembered that this influence could not have been felt till, at earliest, about A.D. 250, Sassanid supremacy only dating from A.D. 227, whereas, judging from the discoveries of Indian numismatology, the decay of Roman trade with India set in as early as A.D. 69. Persian domination may have given this trade its deathblow, but its decline is manifestly due to other causes.

The Fifth Period

Trade with Rome revived somewhat under the Byzantine emperors.

The final division of the Roman empire into east and west took place in A.D. 364, and the next hundred years of Rome were terrible ones for her. A succession of powerless emperors held a show of authority. She was attacked by the Goths and seized by Alaric in A.D. 410. Attila the Hun ravaged the fair lands of Italy in 451. Three years later Genseric, the Vandal, seized and pillaged Rome. It was sacked again in 472, and in 476 it ceased to exist as an empire. This was evidently not a period when we could expect the citizens of Rome to encourage Oriental trade.

The eastern empire at Constantinople, first occupied as a seat of government by Constantine the Great in A.D. 330 and established as the capital of an empire in 376, lasted much longer and enjoyed far greater success. Almost in contact with Asia, and its upper classes having leisure as well as wealth, it was natural for the Asiatic trade to improve.

That products of South India found their way even to Rome at this period is clear from the fact that when Alaric  p608 spared Rome in A.D. 408, he demanded and obtained as part of the ransom three thousand pounds of pepper; and the discovery, which will presently be more fully considered, of quantities of Roman copper coins, many of them of this period, in Madura, as well as on the eastern coast, seems to show that Roman agents were at that time resident in those parts. But it must be observed that we no longer hear of the precious stones of South India as being exported to Rome, and there have been no reported discoveries of coins of this period near the Paḍiyūr beryl-mines.

The coins found in India belonging to this period are as follows:— In the north a coin of Theodosius, included amongst the twelve found together "in a box"; and five gold coins of Theodosius, Marcian, and Leo found in a stupa at Hidda, near Jelālābād. The coins of this period lying in the Calcutta Museum in 1832, and reported on by James Prinsep, cannot be depended on, as it is possible that they were not unearthed in India.

Some coins of Theodosius, Arcadius, and "later Roman emperors" (names not specified) have been found in Ceylon, but the information at my disposal regarding them is not very exact; the only exception being that two of them, of Arcadius, were "brass."

In Southern India we observe that no coins of this period have been found (or at least reported) in the cotton countries, where the most recent coin is one of the reign of Caracalla. At Madura we have a large quantity of copper coins found in the river bed and in waste places about the town, some of them being of Arcadius, emperor of the East (A.D. 395‑408), and Honorius, emperor of the West (A.D. 395‑423); one gold coin of Theodosius II, the successor of Arcadius; one of Zeno; and one of Anastasius.º There have been finds, on the other hand, in Travancore, whence only one previous discovery is reported. A coin of Theodosius II was found at Kōṭṭayam, and at another place at least one each​17 of  p609 Theodosius II, Marcian, Leo, Zeno, Anastasiusº (491‑518), and Justinus I (518). A coin of Theodosius I (371‑395) was found at the Seven Pagodas, or Māmallapuram. Mr. Tracey has also coins of the same emperor found in the Madura District. And finally, Sir Walter Elliot noted finds of oboli "along the Coromandel coast," including some of Valentinian, Theodosius, and Eudoxia.

It would thus appear that, generally speaking, precious stones, cottons, and muslins were not much exported to Rome at this time, but that the trade was more or less confined to pepper and spices shipped from the southern ports both on the east and west.

Roman Coins at Madura

I have mentioned more than once the fact of the discovery at Madura of a number of Roman copper coins. These I saw myself in 1881 in the possession of the late Mr. Scott, a Pleader of that place, who had collected them during a residence of many years there. Unfortunately Mr. Scott could not bring himself to take the trouble to catalogue or arrange them, and I am not aware what has become of them, so that no classification of them is possible at present. All I can say is that I saw a large number, probably some hundreds, lying loose in a drawer in Mr. Scott's house, some that I noted being of Arcadius and Honorius.​18 He gave me the following account of their discovery. He had for many years collected all sorts of South Indian coins, and had been in the habit of regularly paying people in Madura the full value of the metal brought to him; in  p610 consequence of which many of the poorer classes used to search the waste places about the town and the sandy bed of the river in the dry months. The result was the collection of a very large number of copper coins, almost all of which had been found at Madura itself. While ignoring, as I have been compelled to do in these classified lists, finds of coins which have not been reported or noticed in authentic publications, it is impossible for me to pass over this Madura collection, since I myself was shown the coins.

The discovery here and there of isolated coins of more valuable metals teaches us very little, as they may have been acquired purely for ornament or as curiosities. The discovery of a number of coins together in a vessel might be considered merely as evidence that some person had collected them because he was interested in them, or because he desired to trade in them either as ornaments or for the value of the metal. Gold and silver coins might be melted for jewellery, copper for making pots and other useful articles. Coins thus found together might also have been the possession of some Hindu who traded with Rome and hoarded them as treasure. But there seems to be a difference when we have to deal with discoveries such as those of Mr. Scott at Madura. The presence in many different places in the same town of Roman copper coins, found lying in the ground and in the sandy bed of the river, seems to imply that these coins were in daily circulation and were dropped carelessly or otherwise lost by the inhabitants of the place. The question is whether or not Romans, or at least persons using Roman coins in daily life, were actually resident at Madura for a time.

That there is no inherent improbability of this being the case seems manifest. The trading ports of South India were well known to the Roman geographers. Madura was the capital city of the Pāṇḍyans. We have a tradition of the immigration into Malabar, about the year A.D. 68, of a body of refugee Jews from Jerusalem. The beryl-mines of Paḍiyūr, which were evidently exploited by Roman merchants, lie only eighty miles or so from Madura, the  p611 country between these places being admirably adapted for travelling. The tradition of St. Thomas having visited Malabar proves that such a visit was looked upon as quite possible; and the Acta Thomae probably date from a time not later than the fourth century, perhaps as early as the second century A.D. It is certain that the Syrian churches on this coast belong to a very early date, and the Byzantine monk, Kosmas, writing about A.D. 522, mentions the existence of Christian churches "at Male where the pepper grows; and in the town of Kalliena," the latter place being probably Kalliyān, near Bombay. The author of the Periplūs (about A.D. 80), speaks of Muziris, the nearest port to Madura on the west coast, as "a city at the height of prosperity"; while the Pāṇḍyan and Chera kings were spoken of by Pliny, the latter by name, Madura being mentioned as the Pāṇḍyan capital. Ptolemy, who states that he obtained part of his knowledge from persons who had "resided" in India "a long time,"​19 gives the names of a number of places in the neighbourhood of Madura and the interior of Southern India. The Peutingerian tables, as already mentioned, mark a temple of Augustus as existing at Muziris. And these arguments might be multiplied. It would, indeed, be surprising to the last degree if Roman agents were not resident at the capital city of the territory from which so much merchandize was exported to Rome. These agents may, of course, not have been actually Roman citizens. They may have been Alexandrians, or Syrians using Roman coinage, or even Arabs, and they may perhaps not have resided in the country for a long period — possibly only for a year or two between their voyages. But there is no reason apparent why they should not have been Roman citizens, and why they should not have actually lived at Madura for many years. It was a flourishing city. Life was doubtless  p612 pleasant. Trade evidently received encouragement from the Hindu rulers. And there were strong reasons why after the first years of the empire many people should have preferred to live anywhere rather than in Rome. Christians, for instance, would surely have welcomed exile to South India during the terrible days of the persecutions. On the analogy of life, too, as we see it, it is difficult to understand what argument could be raised against the suggestion that Roman commercial agents lived in the principal capitals and marts of South India for trade purposes, just as English commercial agents live to‑day for trade purposes in the principal cities and marts of China.

But it may be argued that the presence of copper coins could hardly prove the presence of people using them, since the coins may have been imported only for the metal of which they were composed, with the intention that they should be melted and converted into pots and domestic utensils. But, first, there was no need to import copper into India, as it was easily procurable in the country. Balfour's Cyclopaedia mentions thirty places where copper is found in India, many of these being in the Madras Presidency.​20 Secondly, if coins were collected solely for the metal they would generally be found in one place — the working-place of the copper merchant or artizan — not scattered about the soil of a large town, as at Madura. Thirdly, copper coins would never have been exported in bulk all the way from Rome or Alexandria to India merely for the metal, even if the metal itself had been scarce, accommodation on the vessels being limited. So that it would seem as if the Roman copper coins found at Madura must have been brought to India for daily use in small purchases by residents, whether Europeans or Syrians or Egyptians, using Roman coinage.

 p613  And I must here draw attention to another point connected with this subject. Captain (now Colonel) Tufnell, in his Hints to Coin Collectors in Southern India,​21 mentions another class of coins as found at Madura, none of which I have myself seen, and which, so far as I know, have not been as yet reported on by any other writer. It will be best for me to quote his own words:—

"These little copper pieces are found in and around Madura, and some years' hunting has proved to me beyond a doubt that they were at one period in pretty general use in that part. . . . For the following reasons I incline to the opinion that they were struck on the spot and were not importations from Rome.

"In the first place, during a recent visit to Madura and the surrounding villages in quest of specimens, I came across no less than seven of these coins, Roman beyond any doubt, but of a type which appears to me to be totally distinct from that found in Europe. These specimens were scattered over several parcels that I examined, and were not all together in one or two, as is usually the case when a number of issues have been dug up together. Nor was this by any means a solitary instance, for I have rarely paid a coin-hunting visit to these parts without meeting with more or less specimens, and other collectors tell me that their experience has been the same. Moreover, they are not the kind of money that one would expect the rich Roman merchant to bring in payment for the luxuries of the East, but small, insignificant copper coins, scarce the size of a quarter of a farthing and closely resembling the early issues of the native mints. . . . The stamp of coin I now refer to occurs, as far as I can learn, in and around Madura alone,​22 and this surely points to the probability of the existence at one time of a Roman settlement at or near that place."

Later on Captain Tufnell speaks of these little coins as perhaps "struck specially for the purposes of trade with a pauper population." By daily trade I presume he means daily household purchases, the larger Roman coins being of too high value to be suitable. He continues: "All the coins of this series are well worn, as though they had been  p614 in regular circulation. They are of so small a value as to be what one would expect to find in use when dealing with a people so poor as the early Hindus. They are constantly being found, and not occurring as a glut at intermittent periods."

We then have a description of them:—

"On the obverse of all that I have met with appears an emperor's head, but so worn that with one or two exceptions the features are well-nigh obliterated. In one or two specimens a faint trace of an inscription appears running round the obverse, but hitherto I have not come across a single specimen in which more than one or two letters are distinguishable. The reverses vary considerably, but the commonest type seems to bear the figures of three Roman soldiers standing and holding spears in their hands.​23 Another bears a rectangular figure somewhat resembling a complete form of the design on the reverse of the Buddhist square coins found in the same locality. . . . On one specimen the few decipherable letters appear to form part of the name Theodosius, and the style of coin points to the probability of its having been issued during the decline of the Roman Empire, possibly after the capital had been transferred to Constantinople. Another specimen in gold that I have seen, now in the collection of the Rev. James E. Tracey, of Tirumangalam, closely resembles on the reverse an issue in the British Museum of Leo III, who ruled the Eastern Empire at the commencement of the eighth century."

In a footnote he adds — "Finds of similar coins have also been made at Anurādhapura and Colombo recently."

Thus we have two classes of Roman coins of little value found at Madura, scattered and not collected together, viz., the copper issues of the regular Roman coinage, and small copper coins apparently locally minted for daily domestic sue; and though as a general rule it may be held that the presence of Roman coins does not necessarily imply the presence of Roman traders, it seems with regard to Madura almost impossible to account for this state of things except  p615 on the supposition that Roman subjects had taken up their residence here and made the city their home, temporary if not permanent.

On the other hand, I must not omit to notice and give due weight to the suggestion of Mommsen (Provinces of the Roman Empire, II, 300) that the Roman money "had already under Vespasian so naturalized itself [in India] that the people there preferred to use it." But he is referring here to gold and silver money, and it seems hardly likely that at the Pāṇḍyan capital copper money would have been minted in imitation of Roman coins when the Pāṇḍyan kings had their own copper money in full circulation — the said imitations bearing, moreover, a design representing the features of a far-away western monarch.

Concluding Remarks

This is not the occasion for attempting a discussion as to the exact nature and extent of Roman influence in India, but a few points may be noticed.

Mr. Vincent Smith​24 points out that the coins of Kadphises II, the date of whose annexation of North India he places at about A.D. 95, agree exactly in weight with the aurei of the early Roman emperors, i.e. 124 grains, as against the 132 grains of the Attic stater.

Mr. Smith has also treated at length the question of the influence of Rome on the Arts of India. This was of course mostly felt in the north, but it is traceable at Amarāvati.​25 Mr. Rapson​26 confirms Mr. Vincent Smith, and writes: "The head on the Kuṣana copper coins bearing the name of Kozola Kadaphes is directly imitated from the head of Augustus."

The fact that the Gupta coins are also of the same weight as the Roman aurei may be due either to the direct influence  p616 of Rome, or more probably to their merely following the Kuṣana standard already in use.

The use of the Roman word denarius, in its form dinar, in early inscriptions is well known. It is found in several Sanskrit inscriptions, e.g. at Sāñchi (A.D. 450‑1), and in the Kashmirian Rāja Taraṅgini in connection with the Huna king Toramāna (c. A.D. 495); also in several Gupta inscriptions of Chandragupta II, Kumāragupta, and perhaps Skandragupta (A.D. 401‑c. 480).​27 So that we may assume that, introduced into India as early as the first century A.D., it remained as a word in common use for several hundred years.

In the Kōṭṭayam plate of Vīra-Rāghava in the possession of the Syrian Christians there, the date of which appears very doubtful (Dr. Burnell attributing it to the year A.D. 774, while the present editor assigns it to the fourteenth century A.D.), occurs the following passage, as translated by Mr. V. Venkayya and published in the Epigraphical Indica under Dr. Hultzsch's authority:​28 — "We gave . . . . the brokerage on (articles) that may be measured with the par̤a, weighted by the balance, or measured with the tape, etc. . . . ." In commenting on this passage Mr. W. Logan writes:​29 "This is almost an exact reproduction of the phrase so familiar to Roman jurists: Quae pondere, numero mensurâre constant," and he thinks that perhaps the currency of the phrase at Kuḍangalūr​30 (the Muziris of the Roman geographers) is traceable back to the time of Roman trade with that city. If so, it would go far to show that Roman law was in use in that tract, and the later the date of the grant the more remarkable would be the survival of the phrase.

To sum up my views on the subject of Roman trade with  p617 India. I have entered on the question because I found myself taking up a standpoint different in some degree from that of previous writers. The difference between us is shortly this: that whereas they have sought in the political condition of India and the adjacent countries, or in the conditions governing the facilities for transport of goods by sea and land between the two countries, for the causes of commercial prosperity and decay during the several periods, I incline to the belief that it is rather to the social condition of Rome itself that we should primarily look for an explanation, the other causes being merely contributory. When the upper classes in Rome gave themselves up to inordinate self-indulgence the demand for Oriental luxuries was great, and the merchants and ship-owners were consequently spurred to the maximum of activity. When life in Rome became simpler and more manly the Oriental trade naturally declined. When life in Rome became almost unbearable owing to internal dissensions and the attacks of the Goths and Vandals its Oriental trade ceased. When the emperors of the east had firmly established themselves at Constantinople, and the social life of that city had passed into a condition of comparative tranquillity, the Oriental trade revived. These reasons, I think, are sufficient in themselves to account for the prevalence of Roman coins in certain parts of India, and their scarcity or absence in others, as well as for the frequently of finds in India of coins of one period as compared with those of another.

Supplementary Note to penultimate paragraph of p602.

Mr. J. R. Henderson, Acting Superintendent of the Madras Museum, informs me that, apart from the Museum Collection of Roman Coins, he himself possesses an aureus of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (A.D. 161‑180) found at Karuvūr.

 p618  Abbreviations

T. C. = Thurston's "Catalogue of Coins" in the Government Central Museum, Madras, No. 1, 1874; No. 2, 1888. 2nd ed., 1894.

B. My. = Buchanan's "Mysore, Canara, and Malabar." 2nd ed. of 1870, Madras.

M. J. L. S. = Madras Journal of Literature and Science.

As. Res. = Asiatic Researches.

J. A. S. B. = Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

B. C. = Dr. Bidie's "Catalogue of Coins in the Madras Museum."

M. C. C. M. = Madras Christian College Magazine.

Ind. Ant. = The Indian Antiquary.

S. L. M. = Sewell's "List of Antiquities, Madras."

Proc. A. S. B. = Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

G. O. = Government Order.

C. A. S. R. = Cunningham's Archaeological Survey Reports.

W. A. A. = Wilson's "Ariana Antiqua."

T. R. D. = Thurston's "On a Recent Discovery of Roman Coins in India."

Rice, Ind. Mag. = Rice on "Roman Coins near Bangalore," in the Indian Magazine.

J. B. B. R. A. S. = Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Num. Chron. = Numismatic Chronicle.

Prin. Ess. = Prinsep's Essays on Indian Antiquities.

 p619  Lists of Roman Coins Found in India

 p620  Description Where Found Date Reference

Twelve Roman copper coins were found in a box "in Upper India," no further details being given. They were coins of Domitian, Gordian, Gallienus, Salonica his wife, Posthumus, Victorinus, Claudius Gothicus, Tacitus, Probus, Maximian, Constantine, and Theodosius, the latest belonging to the fourth century A.D.

Locality not specified. ? J. A. S. B. II (1833), 368.

Seven silver coins were found by Captain A. Court, an officer under General Ventura's command, in one of the Manikyāla Topes, in 1830. They were of the period of the Consulate, none being later than the epoch of the Christian era.

The Manikyāla Tope 1830 J. A. S. B. III (1834), 559, 564, 635.
J. R. A. S. XII (N. S.), 264.
C. A. S. R. II, 162.
W. A. A., pp1536.
Prin. Ess., I, 148.

Three gold coins of Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian's wife, Sabina, were found by Mr. William Simpson in February, 1879, in the Ahin Posh Tope at Jelālābād, along with seventeen Kuṣana coins of Kaphises, Kanishka, and Huvishka. They had been placed in the relic-chamber.

The Ahin Posh Tope at Jelālābād 1879 Proc. A. S. B. 1879, pp78, 134, 208.

"Some years ago a great find of gold coins, containing among others several of the Roman emperors, Constantine, Gordian, etc., in most beautiful preservation, were found near Bāmanghati." No hint is given as to how many Roman coins were found in the hoard, but there were  p621 many, and they were gold. Bāmanghati is in the Singbhūm District, South-East Bengal, between Chaibasa and Balasore. It lies on the main road that runs almost due west from the port of Tamluk on the Hūghli.

Bāmanghati, S. E. Bengal ? C. A. S. R. XIII, 72 (Beglar).

About 1860 many Roman coins were offered for sale at Rāwal Pindi, but no one except the natives knew where they came from, and the information appears to have been concealed.

? c. 1860. C. A. S. R. II.148.

In 1898 or 1899 there was a find of silver denarii in the Hazāra District of the Panjāb. Only 23 appear to have been recovered, the rest having "got into the hands of the Pindi dealers" (C. J. Rodgers): 5 were family or gens coins of the Consulate period, 1 each of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Brutus, 12 of Augustus, 2 of Tiberius, 1 of Hadrian.

Hazāra District, Panjāb 1898 or 1899 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XIX.263.

The Calcutta Museum contained in 1832 2 gold coins of Arcadius, 5 silver coins of Germanicus (which, is not stated), Augustus, Tiberius, Vespasian, and Maximus son of Maximinus (A.D. 236‑8); and a number of copper coins, of which 53 are figured in the volume quoted opposite. A number of others were subsequently bought. Unfortunately, though James Prinsep, the author of the article, asserts that the former series were all "of Indian origin," no further details are given, so that the statement cannot well be accepted as basis for argument, and the only safe course is to leave them out of account altogether. It is true that Dr. R. Tytler stated that some of the coins were "collected" and "procured" by him at Allahabad, Mirzapur, Bindāchal, Kanauj, and Chunar, and I duly record the names; but there is nothing to show that these were found anywhere in the soil of India.

Not known. Lying in Calcutta Museum in 1832. J. A. S. B. I (1832), 392, 476.

 p622  [Mr. Rapson refers to the passage quoted opposite, which deals with 2 Roman coins found in the Maharajah's Treasury at Rewa, but I note that Dr. Hoernle believes them to be forgeries.]

Proc. A. S. B. 1880, p118.

Five Roman gold coins were found in a field at Manikyāla in 1885. They had been strung on a bracelet or necklet, and Dr. Hoernle thinks that the ornament was made about A.D. 200.

Manikyāla 1885 Proc. A. S. B. 1886, p86.

Mr. Vincent Smith states that 5 gold coins of the Byzantine emperors Theodosius, Marcian, and Leo (A.D. 407‑474) were found in a stupa.

Hidda, near Jelālābād. ? J. A. S. B. LVIII (1889), 155.

Dr. Vogel reports his purchase at Peshawur of some ancient seals, two of which, according to Mr. Marshall, were Roman. They are said to have come from Naugrām.

Naugrām, near Peshawur Acquired in 1901 Progress Report of Archaeological Survey, Panjāb Circle, for 1901‑2.

 p623  Roman Coins Found in Southern and Western India

Rulers of Rome Gold Silver Copper Place where Found Date of Finding Reference
B.C. 29‑A.D. 14
"A great many" in a pot. Pollāchi, Coimbatore District 1800 T. C. II p7.
B. My. II.31.
M. J. L. S. XIII.214.
1 Karuvūr, Coimbatore District 1806 T. C. I.1; II.8.
M. J. L. S. XIII.214
"A pot full of coins (metal not stated) of Augustus and Tiberius." Pollāchi, Coimbatore District 1810 T. C. I.3 (authority not mentioned)
1 In a dolmen in Coimbatore District 1817 T. C. I; II.8.
M. J. L. S. XIII.214.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843) p294.
135 In a pot at Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District 1842 T. C. I.2; II.10.
M. J. L. S. XIII.212.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843), p294.
Several, amongst a quite amounting to "five cooly-loads." Kōṭṭayam, ten miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I.2; II.11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1852), 371‑387.
 p624  27 recovered out of about 500 found in an earthen pot. Karuvūr, Coimbatore District. 1878 T. C. II, 21.
M. C. C. M., October, 1883, p219 ff.
Many, amongst a find of 163. Yeshovantpur, near Bangalore, Maisūr. 1891 Rice, Ind. Mag.
180 In a pot at Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II 2nd ed., 24.
Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
40 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304, etc.
B.C. 38‑A.D. 9. Drusus the elder. 1 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C. I, 2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
Several: in the Kōṭṭayam hoard of "five cooly-loads." Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I.2; III, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
2 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District.​31 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
11 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
 p625  3 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
B.C. 13‑A.D. 23. Drusus the younger. 5 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I.2; II, 20.
B. C., 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
Antonia, wife of Drusus. 1 Karuvūr, Coimbatore District. 1806 T. C. I.1; II, 8.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 214.
3 at least, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I.1; II, 11. J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
1, amongst a find of 163. Yeshovantpur, near Bangalore, Maisūr. 1891 Rice, Ind. Mag.
2 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 25.
Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
15 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
Germanicus 1 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C., I.2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
8 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
Agrippina, wife of Germanicus 1 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C. I, 2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
 p626  1 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
A.D. 14‑37, Tiberius "A great many" in a pot. Pollāchi, Coimbatore District. 1800 T. C. I, 1; II, 7.
B. My. II.31.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 214.
1 Karuvūr, Coimbatore District. 1806 T. C. I, 1; II, 8.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 214.
"A pot full of coins (metal not stated) of Augustus and Tiberius." Pollāchi, Coimbatore District. 1810 T. C. II, 8 (authority not stated).
378 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C. I, 2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
28 at least, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1852), 371 ff.
90, recovered out of about 500 found in an earthen pot. Karuvūr, Coimbatore District. 1878 T. C. II, 21.
M. C. C. M., October, 1883, p219 ff.
6 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856), 114; III (1857), 158.
 p627  2 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
Many, amongst a find of 163. Yeshovantpur, near Bangalore, Maisūr. 1891 Rice, Ind. Mag.
329 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 24.
Some (number not stated). Sulibandam, Chicacole Taluq, Ganjam District. 1898‑99 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.
169 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304, etc.
37‑41. Caligula 1 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C. I, 2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
2 at least, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
1 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C., 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
Many, amongst a find of 163. Yeshovantpur, near Bangalore, Maisūr. 1891 Rice, Ind. Mag.
8 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 25.
 p628  5 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
41‑54. T. Claudius (Drus. German.). 2 Karuvūr, Coimbatore District. 1806 T. C. I, 1; II, 8.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 214.
5 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1842 T. C. I, 2; II, 10.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 212.
16 at least, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
8 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
Many, amongst a find of 163. Yeshovantpur, near Bangalore, Maisūr. 1891 Rice, Ind. Mag.
12 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 24.
Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
94 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
Agrippina, wife of Claudius. Some, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
 p629  3 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
2 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 26.
Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
32 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
54‑68. Nero 16 at least, in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
17 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
2 Veḷḷalūr, Coimbatore District. 1891 T. C. II, 2nd ed., 26.
Num. Chron., 1891, p199.
123 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.
A.D. 69‑79. Vespasian. 1 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
3 Pudukōṭa, Trichinopoly District. 1898 Num. Chron., 3rd series, XVIII, 304.

 p630  81‑96. Domitian.

1 Madura District ? T. C. II, 23.
5 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
1 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
96‑98. (Cocceius) Nerva. 2 Kalliyamputtūr, Madura District. 1856 T. C. I, 2; II, 20.
B. C. 2.
M. J. L. S., N. S., I (1856‑7), 114; III (1857), 158.
98‑117. Trajan A number, in a pot. Near Nellore 1786 As. Res., II (1790), 332.
T. C. I, 1; II, 7.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843), 294.
1 Athirāl, Cuddapah District. 1838 T. C. I, 1; II, 9.
Ind. Ant., II, 242.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843), 294.
117‑138. Hadrian. 1 in the Nellore hoard. Near Nellore 1786 As. Res., II (1790), 332.
T. C. I, 1; II, 7.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843), 294.
 p631  5 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
138‑161. Antoninus Pius. A few Darphal, near Sholapur 1840 T. C. II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
Num. Chron., 1st series, V (1842), 202.
1 at least in the Kōṭṭayam hoard. Kōṭṭayam, 10 miles E. of Cannamore. 1850 T. C. I, 2; II, 11.
J. A. S. B. XX (1851), 371 ff.
3 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
Faustina the elder. 1 in the Nellore hoard. Near Nellore 1786 As. Res., II (1790), 382.
T. C. I, 1; II, 7.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
2 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D., p2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX.325.
161‑169. Lucius Verus. A few Darphal, near Sholapur 1840 T. C. II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
Num. Chron., 1st series, V (1842), 202.
 p632  1 Nagdhara, Jabalpur Taluq, Surat. ? J. B. B. R. A. S. XVIII, 38.
161‑180. Marcus Aurelius 2 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22. Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
180‑192. Commodus A few Darphal, near Sholapur 1840 T. C. II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
Num. Chron., 1st series, V (1842), 202.
1 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2. T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22. Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
193‑211. Septimius Severus. Several Darphal, near Sholapur 1840 T. C. II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
Num. Chron., 1st series, V (1842), 202.
1 Waghode, Sawda Taluq, Khandeish ? J. B. B. R. A. S. XVIII, 38.
211‑212. Geta A few Darphal, near Sholapur 1840 T. C. II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
J. B. B. R. A. S. (1843), 294.
Num. Chron., 1st series, V (1842), 202.
 p633  211‑217. Caracalla 1 In Fort, Vinukoṇḍa, Kistna District. 1889 T. R. D. 2.
T. C. II, 2nd ed., 22.
Num. Chron., 3rd series, IX, 325.
. . . . . . . .
337‑361. Constantius II 1 In Madura District ? T. C. II, 23. (Mr. Tracey's collection.)
. . . . . . . .
364. Division of Eastern and Western Empires.
. . . . . . . .
395‑408. Arcadius (Emperor of the East).
395‑423. Honorius (Emperor of the West).
A number in possession of Mr. Scott, Pleader, of Madura. Madura town T. C. II, 23.
S. L. M. I, 285, 291.
408‑450. Theodosius II (Emperor of the East). 1 Madura District ? T. C. II, 23.
1 Kōṭṭayam, Travancore 1896‑7 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.​32
1 at least. Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.​33

 p634  450‑457. Marcian (Emperor of the East).

1 at least. Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.
457‑474. Leo (Emperor of the East). 1 at least. Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.
474‑491. Zeno (Emperor of the East). One (coin pierced to be worn as an ornament). Madura District 1839 T. C. I, 1; II, 9.
M. J. L. S. XIII, 215.
Ind. Ant., II, 242.
J. B. B. R. A. S. I (1843), 294.
1 at least Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.
476. Western Empire extinguished by Odoacer.
491‑518. Anastasius (Emperor of the East). 1 Tirumangalam Taluq, Madura District ? T. C. II, 46.
1 at least Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.
518. Justinus I 1 at least Pudankāvu, Travancore 1903 Private letter from Mr. Thurston.

 p635  Coins Found in Ceylon

Rulers of Rome Gold Silver Copper Place where Found Date of Finding Reference

A.D. 41‑54. Claudius (?) [The coins were believed to be of Claudius, owing to parts of the legend which were decipherable showing the letter C on obverse, and on reverse R. M. N. R. But Mr. Grueber informs me that he knows of no coin of Claudius with such an inscription.]

(Metal and number of coins not stated.) At or near Manaar, on the N. W. coast. 1574 (?) De Couto, Dec. V, liv. 1, ch. VII. Vol. II, pt. I, p71.
Emerson Tennant's "Ceylon," II, 539 n.
A.D. 408‑450. Theodosius (One, metal not stated.) Found by Mr. Burrows at the Galgē rock, Anuradhapura. Ceylon Arch. Survey, 3rd Progress Report, 1894, p5.
395‑428. Arcadius 2,
Abhayagiri 1891 Ceylon Arch. Survey, 4th Progress Report, pp4, 13, pl. VII.
"Later emperors"

"In 1884‑5 several small coins of the later Roman emperors were unearthed at Mihintalē, and a few by Mr. Burrows in Anuradhapura. Larger finds of these 'thin brass oboli' have been made at Colombo, and at more than one place in the Southern Province." Mr. Bell (the writer) mentions among these last a find of 300 Roman coins.

1884‑5 Ceylon Arch. Survey, 4th Progress Report, p13.
Ceylon Literary Register, VI, 188, pp133‑5.

 p636  Other Finds in Southern India
which do not admit of Accurate Classification

Description Where Found Date Reference

Some thousands of silver denarii found in a large pot — five or six Madras measures." All are believed to have been melted down. (Rev. Henry Little.) A "measure" holds about three pints. Thought to be of Augustus.

Karuvūr, Coimbatore District About 1856 T. C. II, 20.
M. C. C. M., Dec. 1883, p338.

A coin (metal not stated) of Theodosius I (A.D. 371‑395) found at Māmallapuram, or "The Seven Pagodas," south of Madras, in a year not mentioned, but earlier than 1832. (Prinsep.)

Māmallapuram, south of Madras. ? T. C. II, 22.
J. A. S. B. 1832, No. 45, I, 406, pl. x.

"Great numbers" found along the Coromandel coast, chiefly oboli (Sir W. Elliot), who mentions amongst them coins of "Valentinian, Theodosius, and Eudocia."

Along Coromandel coast. T. C. II, 22.
Ind. Ant., II (1873), 242.

The Rev. J. E. Tracy has coins of Theodosius, and others not satisfactorily identified, found in Madura District.

Madura District. ? T. C. II, 23.

Two copper coins, Roman but not yet identified, found at Kīlakarai, on the Madura coast, by Mr. J. P. James, Port-officer.

Madura District. ? T. C. II, 23.

A Roman gold coin (not described) is said to have been found by Mr. John Sullivan about the year 1827, when digging the foundations of a house at Ootacamund. It passed to Sir Walter Elliot's collection.

Ootacamund. c. 1827. S. L. M. I, 226.

 p637  Two Roman coins, one a forgery of Gallienus, the other not described, are mentioned by Dr. Hoernle, but there is no certainty as to where they were originally found.

J. A. S. B. LIX (1890), pt. 1, 169.

Large numbers of Roman copper coins have been found in scattered places in the town of Madura, and the late Mr. Scott, Pleader, of that place, collected them. They appear to have not yet been classified or catalogued.

Madura town.

A Roman silver coin was found by Mr. Rea, Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey, on the site of a Buddhist chaitya discovered by him.

Bezwada, Kistna District. 1887‑8 Madras G. O. Public. No. 457 of April 30, 1888, p17.

And a copper one of late date on the sea-coast of Madura.

Kīlakarai, Madura District. 1890 Madras G. O. Public. No. 744 of Nov. 6, 1890, p1.

In his Report for 1891‑2 Mr. Rea mentions "a find of Roman coins lately made," apparently in the south of the Kistna District, but no further clue is afforded as to the locality.

South of the River Kṛishṇā (?) ? 1891 Madras G. O. Public. No. 423 of June 18, 1892, p5.

The Author's Notes:

1 It must be remembered always that I proceed solely on the results of my examination of the reports and information contained in the works above mentioned. Of private and unrecorded discoveries I can say nothing.

2 £1,100,000, of which £600,000 went to Arabia and £500,000 to India (cf. Mommsen's Provinces of the Roman Empire, II, 299‑300).

3 Coins of Ancient India, p50; Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for 1889, p157; Indian Coins, pp4, 16.

4 Vincent's Periplūs, edit. of 1805, vol. II, p369 ff.

5 Nat. Hist., bk. XXXVII, cap. V.

6 Colonel Yale (Smith's Ancient Atlas) says that there was a beryl-mine at Vāṇiyambāḍi, which is 150 miles or so east of Paḍiyūr, in the modern District of Salem. In this he follows Newbold, M. J. L. S. XII (July, 1840), p175.

7 Geog. VII, cap. I, 86.

8 Vitellius is said to have spent seven millions sterling in "vulgar and brutal sensuality" during his few months' reign. The quotation is from Merivale, who writes:— "The degradation of Rome was complete; never yet perhaps had she sunk so low in luxury and licentiousness as in the few months which followed the death of Otho."

9 Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, Introd., p14.

10 An aureus of Marcus Aurelius was found at Karuvūr in the Madura District (see "Supplementary Note" at end).

11 J. A. S. Bengal, vol. LVIII.

12 Whose rise dates from A.D. 226.

13 Apollonius of Tyana, p132.

14 Op. cit., p232.

15 Id., p252.

16 Os Portugueses no Malabar, Intr. xxi.

17 It would appear that no full examination has taken place of this hoard, which came to light last year.

18 I have been attempting to trace these coins, but up to the present have not succeeded. Mr. Thurston, Superintendent of the Government Central Museum, Madras, tells me that after Mr. Scott's death his collection was, by his will, offered to that institution for examination and selection; and Dr. Hultzsch informs me that it was he who looked through it and made the selection. He found no Roman coins amongst them. I infer, therefore, that the Roman coins from Madura, or at least some of them, had been sent to the Museum at an earlier date, since Mr. Thurston writes (April 22nd last): "There is no complete list of Roman coppers found at Madura issued. There are some in the Museum collection." My statement in the text may therefore be accepted as substantially correct, though I am not in a position to give any details.

19 Proleg. I, xvii: παρὰ τῶν ἐντεῦθεν εἰσπλεύσαντων καὶ χρόνον πλείστον ἐπέλθοντων τοὺς τόπους καὶ παρὰ τῶν ἐκείθεν ἀφικόμενων πρός ἡμᾶς, "From those that sailed thither and frequented those places for a long time, and from those who came from thence to us." The latter phrase seems intended to include natives of India visiting Rome.

20 Kosmas, writing in the sixth century A.D., states that copper was produced at Kalliane, or Kalyāna (book XI), but this does not appear to be confirmed by Balfour. The South Indian places mentioned in the Cyclopaedia are Nellore, Ongole, Kālastrī, Venkatagiri, and Kurnool. Mr. Bruce Foote adds two places in the Bellary District, and I have been told of copper workings at Guṇṭupāliyam, near Vinukoṇḍal in the Kistna District.

21 Madras Journal of Literature and Science for 1887‑8, p161.

22 I have never heard of them elsewhere. — R. S.

23 I think that Captain Tufnell was too well-informed to have confused these with the little coins found in South India, probably Chera or of Chera origin, which have devices of Indian figures standing and holding long spears, or bows, in their hands. — R. S.

24 J. R. A. S., January, 1903, p34.

25 J. A. S. B., 1889, p169.

26 Indian Coins §§ 15, 70.

27 J. A. S. B. VI, 456. Fleet's Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings: Corpus Ins. Ind., III, pp33, 38, 39, 40, 41, 262, 265.

28 Epig. Ind., IV, 290 ff.

29 Malabar, I, 269.

30 The grant in question, though named after Kōṭṭayam, the place where it is kept, refers to Kuḍangalūr, or Cranganore.

31 Kalliyamputtūr is close to the Coimbatore District boundary. Sixty-three coins were found in 1856, in a pot in the ground. Forty-nine have been catalogued, and are included in this list. It is not known what became of the remainder.

32 Mr. Thurston calls it simply an "aureus (solidus) of Theodosius." I class it under Theodosius II, solely because another coin of that emperor has been found. It may be one of Theodosius I.

33 See note 32. As the other aurei found with it are all of later date, I apprehend that this coin was one of Theodosius II.

Thayer's Note:

a More recently, S. Jansari, "Roman Coins from the Masson and Mackenzie Collections in the British Museum" (South Asian Studies, 29:177‑193, Sept. 2013) — 117 of them.

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