How to identify the PMC’s or Silver Kahapanas minted in Sri Lanka?.

From the views of those who examined the Moulds , it is now believed that PMC’s from India was pressed on to the soft clay while producing the moulds. R Walberg identifies those coins minted from the moulds found  here from the profile of the product that would come out of such a mould. This differs from the original coins which show the typical cut edges  according to R Walberg. He states that the coins off these moulds , is “rather the smooth rounded  edge of a casting from i.e one sided mould.This becomes evident from the fact that one side of the coin is absolutely flat while the other side is slightly convex”. In fact he has shown pictures of two such coins in his book- Coins and Token from Ancient Ceylon , 2008.

These two coins were found at Tissamaharama where the moulds of Raja Wickremasinghe was found. The strata in which these coins were found is dated to 3 Cent AD.




This blog is incomplete and will be finished soon.

The ancient coins found in the Island has symbols such as the Railed Swastika on the reverse . The other symbols are shared by most independent states of neighbouring India. In the absence of names of Kings etc they cannot be chronologically arranged . The best  evidence available so far is to arrange these in a chronological order is by the C14 and Thermoluminescence dating of strata of undisturbed earth in which these coins are excavated.

A archeological excavations done at Gedige, Salgaswatte and Vijeba Palace at Anuradhaura by Shiran Deraniyagala and that done at Tissamaharama by the German   Team is the best evidence available so far.

These facts are from a presentation made by Wng Comd Raja Wickremasinghe to the Sri Lanka Numismatist society. He had examined the finds at Anuradhapura.

The evidence at Gedige.

The excavation was done to the bedrock and the layers where coins were found is shown in colours below.

The coins found at the deepest level was inscribed as Dataya which means “of Data”. The reverse at a Swastika mouted on shaft perhaps the vertical of ancient sinhala letter Ta ?. The strata was  dated to Pre 300 BC.

The Tree and Railed Swastika, the Silver kahapanas or the Punched Mark Coin that were plated and the Coins with Standing Figure and Railed Swastika. A double sided mould  with different shapes of the PMC’s was also found.

Immediately above this was a a square coin with a  lady standing on a lotus bathed by two elephants on the obverse and a railed swastika on on a 2 tier base, with in a boat[ Raja Wivkremasinghe]. The strata was dated to 210-10 BC.

The coins find at Gedige published by Mr MH Sirisena is shown below.

The layer in which they excavated were later co-related to strata dated to

The rectangular plagues is parhaps a male figure and above the head is a distinct Halo or bonnet, with numerous ray enamating inwards toward the head. These are similar to the coins described by Henry Parker in Ancient Ceylon.

The Excavations at Salgaswatte Anuradhapura

The layers where coins were found is shown below

In the earliest dated layer    a coin of Dataya was found

The standing figure and Railed swastika was excavted  next earliest strata. These rectangular pieces were crudely struck with  a standing figure perhaps a male figure, holding to staffs or weapons.

The Multi symbol Elephant and Railed Swastika finds was dated to layers

In the suceeding strata dated to 190-100 BC was the Small Elephant and Railed Swatika , the Re-struck  Elephant and Railed Swastika and the Tree and Railed Swastika coins. The Tree and Swastika coin was similarin shape  to the  square Female figure coin found ar Gedige and has a Railed Swastika with two tiers but no trace of boat[ Raja Wickremasinghe].All these coins has been found as stray finds from Akurugoda Tissamaharama.

At Tissmaharama the strata in which coins were found published by R Walberg was

1 Cent BC Strata.

a.Tree in enclosure  and Railed Swastika Swastika – 2 Coins.

b. Punched marked Coins – 2 Coins

c.Lion and Railed Swastika -2 Coin.

d. Inscribed Coins – 1 Coin.

e.Plated Punch Marked Coins – 02 coins

f.Standing Figure and Railed Swastika -7 Coins

1 Cent AD Strata





 These were considered as the standard as a means of exchange in the ancient world.Many countries imitated these silver pieces  for trade and circulation, when the genuine coins ran short[Coin Collecting -Greek Coins – J G Milne, C H V Sutherland and D J A Thompson]. Some of these were the Owls of Athens and the Ponies of Corinth. A few example given of the imitations of the famous Owl coin , these coins were minted in different countries as and when they were required  is shown below.

A similar copy found in Sri Lanka  was published by KNV Seyone is shown on a reproduction of an ancient map .


The coin of Mr Seyone a past President of the Sri Lankan Numismatist Society is shown below, the provenance is not stated and needs further examination.

Another coin published by Mr Seyone in his book 

A A coin belonging to Chandamparan Senicutti found in Jaffna is below

Two Greek coin published by HW Codrington in Coins and Currency of Ceylon page 49 are.

1. Acarnania, Lucus 350-250 BC.

Obv: Head of Apollo facing left.

Rev: Prow of Galley.

AE – Weight: about 39 grains Catalogue of Greek Coins in British Museum[Thessaly] N0 68,ff.

2. Selecid; Seleucus IV, BC 187-175.

Obv:  Daidemed head to right, in bead circle.

Rev: In bead circle elephant head, left., trunk upraised; behind ear a ,tripod; above Greek Letters and below greek letters.

AE;  Weight:60.9 Grains. BMC ., Seleucid Kings, page 33 No 31.

Indo Greek Coins published by Osmund Bopearachchi

Parthian Coins

 Wekipedia on Indo-Parthian rulers were a group of ancient kings from Central Asia, who ruled parts of present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, during or slightly before the 1st century AD. For most of their history, the leading Gondopharid kings held Taxila (in the present Punjab province of Pakistan) as their residence, but during their last few years of existence the capital shifted between Kabul and Peshawar(Gandahara). These kings have traditionally been referred to as Indo-Parthians, as their coinage was often inspired by the Arsacid dynasty, but they probably belonged to a wider groups of Iranian tribes who lived east of Parthia.

Drachma of PhraatesIV [BC37/6 -24/3] or Orodes II BC 4/3. HW Codroington CCC pg 49. This coin is much worn and weigh 54.3 grains; it was purchased from a shop, where it is said to have been sold by a villager’ Spolia Zeylanica , Vol VIII, Plaate XXX June 1912.

A drachma of Volgaeses II AD 62-67 , with a punch mark on the obverse, is in the Colombo Museum; it weighs 67.2 grains.

Indo – Parthian

Azes II , with Aspavarma, AD 10.

AE; Type  Obv: Horseman with whip and Bow

                    Revc: Pallas , IMC ., i, plate IX,7. Purchased in Colombo.

Similarties of  Ancient Sri Lankan token /coins with ancient Greek Coinage.


The Turtle was a  symbol found on ancient Greek coins.

The Turtle or perhaps a  Tortoise  is found on a few tokens found recently at Tissamaharama ,South of Sri lanka, a few examples are shown below.


Turtles/ Tortoise  and Fish symbols are also found on ancient Silver Kahapanas or PMC’s. The tortoise  is the Vehicle of Brahma and Fish in the Matsa  Yuwala are auspicious symbol of the ancient Sinhalese. The fish was use on rock inscriptions associated with ancient sinhala royal families.

Fish shape coin were used in ancient China, a few of them off the Singapore Coin Auction- Taisei- Baldwin- Gillio Catalogue 20 is shown below

Few examples of  Fish token which are inscribed in ancient sinhala script are very similar to the Fish Tokens of Olbia , an ancient Greek Island. So fish shape token were used for trade at both ends of the ancient world. It is found in Sri Lanka where the ancient trader mariners  of both countries travelled to.