Reading & Writing Materials
The most common writing material was the leaf of the palm,
dried and cut into small strips. Lampblack was used as ink and
usually applied with a reed pen. In the South, a sharp stylus was
used to score the characters on the leaf and powdered charcoal was
later rubbed into the depressions, making a much sharper image.
Books were made by stringing strips together through one or two
holes made at one end. In places where palm leaves were
unavailable, birch bark, strips of cotton or silk, and bamboo
replaced them. Important notices were engraved on copper plates.
The earliest civilisation of India, the Indus Valley
civilisation, shows no evidence of coins being used as a means of
barter. Coinage was probably introduced by Persian influence in
the sixth century BCE during the Aryan domination.1
The earliest were punch-marked on silver blanks without any
inscription. Copper coins were also known. The varied weights of
the coins assigned them a certain value. Thus there were various
denominations. However, only one type of gold coin is known to
have been use in this time period.
While the Greeks brought in their own currency, little changed
in the make-up and material of coins until the age of the Guptas
(ca. 320-540 CE) when lead and base silver were also used to make
coins in the south.
The Indian kingdoms used messengers to send word from one king
to another. Pigeons were also used to transmit messages. The
latter skill was borrowed from the Sumerians.
1. A. L. Basham, "The Wonder that
was India", (Sidgwick and Johnson Limited, 1967), p. 504.