Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tracing History: clue is currency

If you are interested in history you are a passionate forager. Like a detective you reveal a time unknown using a mere clue. A clue that was omitted by others picked up by you and lead all to a startling invention. With many other things, ancient currency is a very important clue to history. Currency is a mean for exchange, its weight and purity is predetermined. It bears the seal of a independent state to declare it’s own authenticity. It’s also important to realize the scenario of the social structure, religious beliefs and the aesthetics of the applicable time. Working on the history of the Bengal mainly faces the lack of information. We could not go beyond the Gupta regime (320-550). Because pre-Gupta period left a little information to proceed with. So the historian were desperately looking for some clues. The last thirty years’ anthropological survey contributed a lot to draw the attention to that silhouette area of Bengal history. Scores of terracotta seals, sculptures and currencies have been found by this time. A little note can be added here. Ancient Bengal was divided into four major parts. Those are- Pundrabardhan, Raro, Bongo and Somoto-Horikel. Pundrabardhan was mainly the northern part of the Bengal. Raro consisted of West Bengal, Purulia, Birvum, Hugli and Hawra of today. Bongo region was with Dhaka, Bikrompur and Faridpur. And Chittagong, Comilla and Noakhali of today were under Somotot-Horikel. When different kinds of currency were discovered, Historians first tried to identify which time and which regime those belonged to. Currency is deeply connected with the trade activities. As we found so much currencies of the period from 400BC to 300AC, makes a sense that trade was a developing sector at that time. A lot of punch marked currencies have been found from Mohasthangor of Bogra, Dinajpur and a place near Dhaka. These currencies are 3.337 gm in weight. The measurement was done with the Karjapon standard. That standard spread throught the India during the Mourja regime, that was pre-Gupta period. Currencies were mainly of silver. Besides there were copper and a mixing of tungsten, in a little quantity. There were around 172 types of designs. Some currencies were only marked with numbers but some were cast. Though Bangla was never ruled by the Kushan Empire, here Kushan currencies were also found. Maybe it is a sign of far trade started then. Kushan Emperor Konishko’s gold currencies were not rare even in our Bogra. But silver currencies were much greater in number than gold. Those had been using for transaction mainly in the ancient Raro region. Sure those were imported but had an important roll here. As a consequence, many local silver currency of this region were designed according to those of Kushans’. Those were named as Kushan-Bongo currency but had some distinctive features of their own. Then the anthropologists gave their attention to match the similarities between currencies of several regions of India. And then they suggested that from 100BC, there were a strong trade bond between the Bengal, Northern Orissa and southern Bihar. There were also some currencies where only different kinds of writings are encrypted. The alphabets used in those writings were of Khorosti and Khorosti-Brahmi. And those had been used by the inhabitants of North-western India. So we could assume that merchants of those regions came here for trade. The Mourja Empire spread its regime consequently at that time and left significant effect on this Bengal. Before the Mourja there was no city in the Bengal. So those currency indicate the beginning of a town-based society. Development of agriculture, economy, trade and crafts took place at that time. That is a little specimen for the youngsters about time digging. It is not less interesting than doing detective jobs revealing an unknown, non-reachable twilight time deducting the not-so-significant type incidences. Why not you think of some other clue that has not been taken into account yet?

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