Mystery of Ancient Roman Coins Discovered at Japanese Dig Site


Discovery of ancient coins coin cashes aren't an every day occurrence, but they are not exactly unheard of either. Earlier this year we reported on the discovery of a huge stockpile of ancient Roman coins in Italy. Unearthing ancient Roman coins at a dig site in Japan however, is very unusual.

This is precisely what happened when four ancient Roman coins, dating from the fourth century CE, were discovered at a archaeological site in Okinawa , Japan. During a press briefing held by the board of education in the city of Uruma it was revealed that in addition to several Chinese coins four ancient Roman coins, a coin from the Ottoman Empire, dated 1687, and several other as of yet unidentified coins were discovered.

The Katsuren Castle Ruins Dig Site

The Katsuren Castle Ruins Dig Site

The site in question is located at the ruins of Katsuren Castle in the Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa. Katsuren Castle has long since been considered as an influential cultural heritage site. First being established in the 12th century, Katsuren Castle became an important trade route between Japan and China as well as other neighbouring Asian countries well into the 15th and 16th centuries. In the year 2000 it was entered onto the UNESCO world heritage list.

Unfortunately, most of the coins were badly degraded but Hiroyuki Miyagi , an archaeologist from Okinawa International University, was able to identify most of them using x-ray radiography. The coins were first discovered by Toshio Tsukamoto, a researcher from Gangoji temple cultural properties department, and bear the image of Constantine I who ruled from 324 – 337 CE.

Roman Coin Discovered At The Katsuren Castle Ruins

Roman Coin Discovered At The Katsuren Castle Ruins

Masaki Yokou, the spokesperson for Uruma city's Board of Education, said :

It is a strange and interesting find. We don't think that there is a direct link between the Roman Empire and Katsuren Castle, but the discovery confirms how this region had trade relations with the rest of Asia.

This would make sense since the Roman coins predate the construction of the castle at Katsuren by at least seven hundred years. It is more likely that the coins slowly found their way to the east via trade routes, and could potentially even have formed a part of a medieval coin collection. This is purely speculation though, but no-one can deny that finding 4th century Roman coins at an archaeological site in Japan, investigating a 15th century castle in very interesting.

Ottoman Coin Discovered At The Katsuren Castle Ruins

Ottoman Coin Discovered At The Katsuren Castle Ruins

For those so inclined, the coins will be on display at the Uruma City museum in Okinawa until the end of November 2016.

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