The oldest known coinage in the world found in China | Smart News


Archaeologists in China have discovered what they say is the world’s oldest known coin-making site. Used to earn metal money about 2,600 years ago, the bronze casting workshop was located in the ancient city of Guanzhuang, in what is now central China’s Henan Province, reports the official press agency. Xinhua.

During the excavation, researchers found finished parts, part molds and pits dug for the disposal of casting waste. Using radiocarbon dating, they discovered that the workshop began its strike operations between 640 and 550 BCE. The team published their findings in the journal antiquity Last week.

“The discovery of coins is not surprising, but the discovery of a coin workshop is really exciting because it shows the existence of a very old coin workshop”, lead author Hao Zhao, archaeologist at Zhengzhou University, tells China Red Star News, as reported by the World time.

The cast iron molds found on the site demonstrate that the craftsmen took care to standardize the shape and size of the pieces.

“[T]he clay cores were carefully fabricated using a measuring tool to regulate their size and minimize variations, ”the authors write.

The coins made in the workshop are “shovel money ”, a first form of metal money in the form of a gardening tool of the same name. By the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, these coins replaced cowries during the Zhou dynasty Spring and autumn period, which lasted from about 770 to 476 BCE

The Mint used measuring tools to produce a standardized currency.

(H. Zhao et al. / antiquity, 2021)

As Jesse Holth reports for ARTnews, the workshop itself began its operations around 770 BC, creating valuable artifacts in bronze, ceramic, jade, and bone before focusing on minting coins. The location of the operation near the city’s administrative center suggests that it may have started minting coins on government orders. Guanzhuang, founded around 800 BCE, appears to have been a center of activity in the Zheng State until its abandonment after 450 BCE

Other foundries elsewhere in China began making parts around the same time. Speak World time, Zhao says that previous excavations of two different coinages from the spring and fall period took place before technology was developed to allow precise carbon dating of minting materials.

The parts of the Guanzhuang site are not as old as metal coins discovered in the ancient city of Ephesus, in what is now Turkey, but as Zhao points out, no mint workshop was found there.

Bill Maurer, an anthropologist at the University of California at Irvine who was not involved in the new research, says National GeographicIt’s Jillian Kramer’s discovery that the discovery of the parts with the molds used to make them is very unusual. Ancient coins are often found in treasures far removed from the sites where they were minted, making dating difficult.

The new study is fueling a long-standing debate on the origins of money. Some researchers argue that the money started out as a means of facilitating barter between traders and customers. Others say governments created it to collect taxes and debts.

Maurer tells National Geographic that the mint’s apparent standardization of coin production near a political center “lends weight to the hypothesis that anthropologists and archaeologists have long defended: that money emerges primarily as a political technology , and not as an economical technology ”.

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