Reviews


ANCIENT, MEDIEVAL AND RECENT HISTORY AND COINS OF PAKISTAN. By Rear Admiral Sohail A. Khan. pp.157. Islamabad, Leo Book, 1998.

This book is being distributed free by the Pakistan Numismatic Society and in the first instance anyone interested should contact Mobin Ahmed at ageco@isb.paknet.com.pk.

This volume is being distributed free of charge by the Pakistan Numismatic Society. It is divided into four sections. The first provides brief overviews of each of the dynasties and series of coins from the early punchmarked until the British annexed India. Each series is accompanied by black and white illustrations (of variable quality). The second section covers the same material again with some additional discussion of the history and the coins. This is followed by a set of essays and a fourth section of maps, chronologies and genealogical information.

So how does the content compare to Khan's stated aim of producing a 'handbook' of the regions coins? The answer is that Khan falls somewhat short of this goal. The black and white illustrations are usable and the text is clear and concise. The chronologies and tables of kings are simple and convenient, though I am at a complete loss as to why the chronology begins halfway through the period covered by the book. In a handy and easy to use format the book provides an overview of the coins of Pakistan. So in its own terms the book is broadly successful.

But there are failings with the book. The illustrations, as mentioned above, are not good enough. The quality is not the only problem. There are not enough coins illustrated. For the Kushan Empire Khan illustrates coins of Heraus/Sanab, Kanishka, Huvishka, Vasudeva. The coins of Kajula, Soter Megas, Wima Kadphises, and the later Kushans are missing. This might have been an acceptable ommission if space had been a problem but nearly forty pages are wasted in the third section of the book. The third section consists of three essays, none of which add anything worth reading. The essays contain no new material and Khan is not a sufficiently talented writer to be read for pleasure. This section could have been dropped in favor of a greater number of illustrations of the coins. Had Khan done so the books value to collectors would have been greatly enhanced.

In addition to the problems of illustration there are a number of errors in the book: ancient economies are not divided into coinage and barter systems; nor are coins as useful to historians as Khan implies in his introduction; Soter Megas is not a synonym for the Kushan king Vasishka (27); Kanishka was not a Buddhist; and Khan's discussion of the date of Kanishka is rather confused (75). These errors are misleading and irritating.

Most of these criticisms should be directed at the publishers Leo Books. The quality and number of the pictures is their responsibility. As for the third section they should have raised concerns with the author. It is an authors job to provide something that is worth being considered for publication; it is the publishers job to ensure that when it is published it is worth reading. On this occasion Leo Books have fallen short.

The book is being freely distributed by the Pakistan Numismatic Society and as such it is a useful overview for those interested in coins. It is not, however, a good introduction to economic history and its value to Kushan studies is in what it says about non-Kushan coins.
Contents Page and Index
Chronology of Kushan History
Military History of the Kushans
More Information and Contacting the Author