“Islamic Coins” from a Hindu Temple

Reconsidering Ghaznavid Interactions with Hindu Sacred Sites through New Numismatic Evidence from Gandhara

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
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  • 1 Yale University

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This paper examines enigmatic, small, Arabic-inscribed copper coins that were minted or circulated in the environs of a Hindu cave temple complex in northern Gandhara. Based on legends and typology, most of these issues can be attributed to the Ghaznavid period. This new numismatic evidence calls into question long-standing narratives of the Ghaznavid invasion of Hindustan, which posit that the Ghaznavids pursued a uniformly iconoclastic policy toward Hindu sacred sites. The evidence also suggests that the Ghaznavids embraced diverse modes of interaction with the Hindustani frontier zones. These went beyond the well documented raiding expeditions to realize short-term financial gains. Rather, the Ghaznavids may also have had long-term economic objectives, which necessitated preserving existing sacred institutions and their administrative and fiscal machinery and patronage networks.

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  • 5

    See H. Falk, “A Copper Plate Donation Record and Some Seals from the Kashmir Smast.” Beiträge zur allgemeiner und vergleichenden Archäologie 23 (2003): 1-18.

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  • 12

    Since 2005, the author has conducted detailed on-site interviews with local antiquarians and farmers to determine the general find locations of coins, and to ascertain the range of native coin types found in the Kashmir Smast and its environs. See, e.g., W. Ziad, “Treasures of the Kashmir Smast.” jons 187 (2006): 14-17.

  • 14

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  • 18

    See M. Mitchiner, Indian Tokens: Popular Religious & Secular Art (London: Hawkins, 1998).

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    M. Mitchiner and A. Skinner, “English Tokens, c. 1200 to 1425.” British Numismatic Journal 53 (1983): 31, 37.

  • 22

    A. Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Sahis (Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam University, 1979): 170.

  • 23

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    G. Khan, Arabic Documents from Early Islamic Khurasan (London: Nour Foundation, 2007): 14-19.

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    M. Nazim, The Life and Times of Mahmud of Ghazna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931): 88.

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    A. Wink, Al Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997): 2:131.

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  • 54

    Stan Goron and J.P. Goenka, Coinage of the Indian Sultanates (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001): xxiii.

  • 77

    R. Eaton, “Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States.” Journal of Islamic Studies 11/3 (2000): 294.

  • 86

    A. Patel, “Architectural Histories Entwined: The Rudra-Mahalaya/Congregational Mosque of Siddhpur, Gujarat.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63/2 (2004): 155. The commercial-religious linkages of temple sites in northern Hindustan is attested to by additional epigraphic evidence from the ninth to eleventh centuries, which documents the role of merchant classes in financing temple construction and management and in directing civil affairs of temple polities. See A. Malik, Merchants and Merchandise in North India, AD 600-1000 (New Delhi: Manohar, 1998): 132-34.

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  • 92

    T. Sen, Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations, 600-1400 (New Delhi: Manohar, 2004): 236-40.

  • 96

    J.A.S. Burgess, ed., Epigraphia Indica. A Collection of Inscriptions Supplementary to the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum of the Archaeological Survey (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink, 1892): 1:184-90.

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