Wednesday, September 28, 2016

paging Nathan Bauman

My numismatist friend Nathan Bauman might find this news of interest. I'm a layman, and I think this is utterly fascinating.

For the first time Japanese archaeologists have unearthed ancient Roman coins at the ruins of an old castle.

The discovery of 10 bronze and copper coins — the oldest dating from about 300-400 AD — in southern Okinawa caught researchers by surprise.

It was the first time Roman Empire coins have been discovered in Japan, thousands of kilometres from where they were likely minted.

"At first I thought they were one-cent coins dropped by US soldiers," archaeologist Hiroki Miyagi said.

"But after washing them in water I realised they were much older. I was really shocked."


Nathan B. said...

Hi Kevin!

Thanks for thinking of me! I must admit to being confused, though.

1) Some ancient Byzantine coins from about 350 CE (AD)
2) and some Ottoman coins from the 1600's
3) turn up in a Japanese castle that was abandoned in the 1500's.

Unless the Japanese perfected time travel, I don't see how this could be anything other than a hoax, or a very unusual attempt to hide "treasure."

A further problem comes in this quote:

"Researchers initially believed the coins had been planted as a hoax.

However, an X-ray analysis of the dime-sized coins showed some were embossed with Roman letters and possibly the image of Emperor Constantine I and a soldier holding a spear."

The "however" is not a response to the idea that the coins were planted. Whether or not the coins were made by Roman mints can have no bearing on whether or not they were planted an an archaeological dig site. The article doesn't appear to be an accurate and trustworthy source. I'll see if I can find another article on this subject.

Interesting, though.

Kevin Kim said...

Good points, Nathan, but I trust the article has at least served as a jumping-off point for further exploration. Happy hunting and/or debunking!

Nathan B. said...

Hi Kevin,

Well, I looked around, and the other articles from other news sources have corroborated the basic ideas:

-there were ancient Roman/Byzantine coins dating from the 300's CE

-there were also Ottoman coins, at least one of which is thought to have dated to the 1600's

-a Wikipedia sidebar has the castle being in use until 1611, which would be the early 17th century. This makes much more sense.

At least one article quoted an expert to the effect that the Ottoman material might have been added later.

I'd want to know more about this, but there's no question that traders got around--from truly ancient times to the time of the great Western explorers. Fascinating stuff, certainly!