Prof. Mohammad Habib Memorial Lecture organized

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batori.inALIGARH, March 28- Dr. John Deyell, a renowned numismatic historian and a Canadian diplomat of distinction, delivered Professor Mohammad Habib Memorial Lecture in the staff lounge, faculty of Arts, under the auspices of the Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University. His lecture covered ‘coinages of Delhi and Bengal Sultanates’.

In his lecture, Dr. Deyell drew attention to the fact that Indian coinage system was entirely different from the West Asian during 7-12th centuries. He said that there was a scarcity of gold or silver coins in northern India during that period. While, Islamic coinages, on the other hand, were based on gold and silver coins, which are found in profusion. In Central Asia, silver coins predominated.

With the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, while ‘book money’ continued, gold and silver coins (tankas) began to be minted from Iltutmish’s time (1210-36) onwards, along with copper money (Jital). Conquests of Gujarat and the Deccan under Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) and his revenue measures greatly increased coin-mintage, this is why large herds of his coins have been found. In Dr. Deyell’s view, Mohammad Tuglaq’s currency experiment in 1330s is to be explained by holdings shortage of silver in relation to gold in the treasury rather than a general shortage of precious metals.

As the Delhi Sultans lost control of their coastal provinces in the 15th century, they ceased to have access to imported gold and silver and this explains why they now depended on an increasingly debased copper based billon coinage.

In contrast to this, Bengal Sultanate was not only the first to mint silver tanka, but also continued to mint silver on some scale while Delhi had shifted purely to copper coinage. This was because it could import silver from Yunnan in China overland and also across the sea. Similarly, for small transaction it used covers (sea shells) imported from Maldives. It had no copper money, which the Mughals introduced later on.

Professor Irfan Habib who presided over the programme, remarked that Dr. Deyell has revised a number of our notion and given a very well-reasoned picture of Indian numismatic history. He recalled the seminal character of Dr. Deyell’s earlier work, Living without Silver.

Earlier, Professor Tariq Ahmad, Chairman of the Department spoke about Professor Mohammad Habib’s personality and contributions to History and introduced Dr. Deyell.

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