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“Islamic Coins” from a Hindu Temple

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

image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

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.

Affiliations: 1: Yale University


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