SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Money Supply, Quantity Theory, and Feudalism in Sixth Century India

Dr Robert Bracey (British Museum)

Date: 12 December 2017Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 12 December 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: 21/22 Russell Square Room: T102

Type of Event: Workshop


The feudalism hypothesis first proposed by G B Sharma in connection with copper plate charters has enjoyed considerable prominence in the historiography of South Asia. Sharma argued that in the mid to late first millennium AD a pan-Indian shift took place, with monetised urban market economies being displaced by redistributive activities that tied people to the land. He structured his account of this in terms of Marxist models of the feudal stage of development. Centrally important to this, and counter-arguments, are assumptions about the availability of money. Sharma has argued that their was a paucity of metallic coinage, and critics (particular Shailendra Bhandare) have argued there was not. While Sharma's methodology has been shown to be unsound that is not the same as demonstrating that his conclusion is wrong. This presentation will focus on the period between the death of Buddhagupta (c. AD 500) and the accession of Harsha (c. AD 600) which is widely assumed to be a period when metallic currency was in particularly short supply, due to political instability. It will explore what we know, and do not know, about coinage in that period, how coinage relates to money supply, and the applicability of modern economic theory - particularly issues around velocity, the aggregate quantity of transactions, price indexes, and the limitations/capability of our sources in addressing these issues.


Registration is required of all participants

Organiser: SOAS, University of London

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Contact Tel: +44 (0) 207898 4893

Sponsor: European Research Council