Precious Metals, Debasements and Cowrie Shells in the Medieval Indian Monetary Systems, c. 1200-1575
How did a pre-modern government sustained largely by agricultural revenue maintain a viable monetary system when it lacked indigenous sources of precious metal? Importation was key, but supply constraints induced di erent responses. is chapter examines the early medieval Indian context, where both debasement and coinage substitutes were attempted. A case study is examined: the coastal Bengal sultanate, which maintained for almost four centuries a monetary system based on imports of silver and cowrie shells. is system is contrasted with the monetary situation in the inland Delhi sultanate, which progressively lost its capacity to sustain precious metal coinage, coincident with its loss of sovereignty over coastal connections.