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  • 15 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture

    Day 32

    Question 1. Discuss the development of coins in India with particular emphasis on Satavahana and Mughal Coins. (250 words).

    Question 2. The conservation of cultural heritage needs to be done by adopting best practices across the globe. How can technology be used to preserve cultural heritage? Discuss. (150 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Introduce the currency and coin system prevalent in ancient India.
    • Discuss the development of coins in India and special mention of Satavahana and Mughal Coins.
    • Conclude suitably.


    • The word Coin is derived from the Latin word Cuneus and it is believed that the first recorded use of coins was in China and Greece around 700 B.C. and in India in the sixth century BC.
    • Apart from the coins, another major medium of exchange in the early Indian market was the Cowrie Shell. Cowrie shells were used in large numbers by the ordinary masses for small-scale economic transactions. It is said that the cowrie shells carried definite value in the market just as the coins.


    • The study of coins and medallions is known as Numismatics. Early coins were die-struck manually and therefore were not uniform in shape and design. Some of them were casted coins and were die-struck only on one side.
    • Development of coins in India started from the Puch marked coins and achieved the milestone of coin development in the Mughal era. The evolution of coins in India is as follows:
    • Punch Marked coins: Panini’s Ashtadhyayi cites that in punch marked coins, the metallic pieces were stamped with symbols. Each unit was called ‘Ratti’ weighing 0.11 gram. The first trace of this coin was available in the period between sixth and second century BC.
      • Punch marked coins issued by various Mahajanapadas (around 6th century BC): These coins had irregular shapes, standard weight and were made up of silver with different markings.
        • Magadha had generally five symbols. Magadhan punch-marked coins became the most circulated coins in South Asia.
      • Punch marked coins during Mauryan Period (322–185 BC): Coins had various symbols like, sun and six-armed wheel was most consistent and termed as Karshapanas.
    • Indo-Greek Coins: They introduced the fashion of showing the bustor head of the ruler on the coins and mentioned languages and scripts like, Greek and Kharosthisthi. Greek gods and goddesses commonly shown on the Indo-Greek coins and later coins had images of Indian deities as well.
      • They carried detailed information about the issuing monarch, the year of issue and sometimes an image of the reigning king.
      • The extensive coinage of the Kushan Empire also influenced a large number of tribes, dynasties and kingdoms, which began issuing their own coins.
    • Coins Issued in Gupta Age: The Gupta age (319 AD–550 AD) marked a period of great Hindu revival. The Gupta coins were mainly made of gold, although they issued silver and copper coins too.
      • On one side of these coins, king standing and making oblations before an altar, playing the veena, performing ashvamedha and on the other side is the goddess Lakshmi seated on a throne or a lotus seal, or the figure of the queen herself.
      • The inscriptions on the coins were all in Sanskrit (Brahmi script) for the first time in the history of coins.
    • Coins by Satavahanas: The Satavahana kings mostly used lead as a material for their coins. Silver coins were rare. Satavahana coins are devoid of any beauty or artistic merit. They constitute a valuable source-material for the dynastic history of the Satavahanas. The dialect used was Prakrit.
    • Mughal Coinage: The standard gold coin of the Mughals was the Mohur of about 170 to 175 grains. Abul Fazl in his ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ indicated that a Mohur was equivalent to nine rupees. Half and quarter mohurs are also known.
      • The silver rupee, which was an adoption from Sher Shah’s currency, was the most famous of all Mughal coins.
      • The Mughal copper coin was adopted from Sher Shah’s dam which weighed 320 to 330 grains.
      • Akbar issued both round and square coins. In 1579, he issued gold coins called Ilahi coins to propagate his new religious creed ‘Din-i-Illahi’. On this coin, it was written ‘God is great, may his glory be glorified’.
        • The value of an ilahi coin was equal to 10 rupees.
      • Sahansah was the largest gold coin. These coins bore the names of the persian solar months.
      • Jahangir showed the legend in a couplet in the coins. In some of his coins, he added the name of his beloved wife Noorjahan. The most famous of his coins had images of Zodiac signs.


    Ancient coinage is not only evidence of the economy of the time but also the evidence of royal customs, practices and social belief. These coins are providing knowledge about ancient kings and dynasties, socio-religious practices etc. The preservation of these antique assets is the need of time.

    Answer 2


    • Introduce briefly by stating that with the passage of time, artwork, sculptures, monuments and paintings is damaged.
    • Discuss the role of technology in the preservation of cultural heritage.
    • Conclude suitably.


    As the passage of time necessarily degrades art, often in the form of dirt or cracks. The use of two technologies, laser ablation and bacteria, is helping to restore artwork to its intended form. Laser ablation involves the removal of dirt through the excitation of particles with light energy. Bacteria are used both to remove polluting materials and to fill cracks in sculpture. The trend of restoration, however, is frowned upon by some purists as an aesthetic process that is not in accordance with traditional ideas of art preservation.


    Artwork, like all of antiquity, is at the mercy of time, time brings prolonged exposure to light, moisture, dust, and other elements of nature that cause artwork to become dirty and often permanently damaged. The pollution caused because of factories and oil refineries around the Taj Mahal has caused its colour to turn yellow and lose its luster over the years.

    Technologies that can be used to preserve sculptures, monuments, and paintings are:

    • Laser Ablation: This technique will remove dirt and varnish, but not as much with the surface of the art itself.
    • Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS): This technology eliminates the need for human guesswork and thus safeguards the artwork. It can only superficially restore the work.
    • Bacteria can be used to remove many of the common pollutants found in artwork without damaging the artwork as they eat dirt. For example: Pseudomonas s tutzeri. They also help in restoring cracked sculptures such as Bacillus cereus that produces calcium carbonate.
    • Electric vehicles can be used to control air pollution so that there is little chance for acid rain which mainly destroys the sculptures.
    • Artificial intelligence: AI will also make restoration and preservation of existing cultural heritage far easier and vastly superior to previous methods. Information is digitized, and AI algorithms alter the pixels of damaged areas by cross-referencing them mathematically with the undamaged. AI will do real time monitoring of air pollution and give information, thus helping in conserving.
    • Use of renewable energy: Renewable energy such as solar energy and wind energy can be used instead of thermal energy, which will reduce pollution thereby helping in conservation of arts.
    • Absorbers, filters, air purifiers based on ozone-free negative ions generation technology, can be used at the factories to control air pollution.


    Advances in science and technology have led to safer and more effective approaches for preserving art, sculptures and paintings. Modern conservation practice adheres to the principle of reversibility, which dictates that treatments should not cause permanent alteration to the object.

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