CHENNAI: A copper coin dating back to 4th Century BC, which was possibly made by the Korkai Pandiyas, could prove to be an important source for research about the Sangam era, according to noted numismatic R Krishnamurthy.
The coin has been in the collection of Krishnamurthy, president, South Indian Numismatic Society, but had not been researched thoroughly until now. After a recent request for information by a German collector who was writing a book on South Indian kingdoms, he took out a collection that he had for 30 years to study them. He found that one of the coins that he had not noticed before had inscriptions that suggested a new connection. Piecing together the inscriptions in the coin, which were faded in some parts, he found the name ‘Maran’ inscribed in it, where the ‘ma’ resembles the Mauryan Brahmi script, while the ‘ra’ and ‘(i)n’ resemble the Tamil Brahmi script.
“The ‘ma’ is of a unique nature and can also be seen in bits of pottery excavated from archaeological sites in Kodumanal in Erode,” he says. The coin weighs 10 grams and has inscriptions of an elephant on one side and hillocks on the other.
“It has a unique minting process — the inscriptions were printed on two separate coins, and the blank sides of both were welded together using lead to make the final coin. Modern technology could have evolved from this method,” adds Krishnamurthy. Prior to this, he has also found another coin with the word ‘Maran’ on a square metal plate.