News & Notes

A Fantastic Find

Published December 4, 2023 | 1 min read

By Sydney Stewart

Archaeologists in Japan uncovered a hoard of around 100,000 coins while excavating a site for the construction of a factory. The find was 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. At the time of this writing, researchers have examined only 334 of the coins. The oldest (a Chinese ban liang, “half ounce”) dates back to 175 B.C., and the most recent is from A.D. 1265. Archaeologists discovered the coins in 1,060 bundles of 100 coins each. 

After being overrun by the nomadic Jurchen people, the Northern Song dynasty’s coinage lost value and became popular for foreign use.

While researchers have not determined the age of the hoard itself and the identity of the depositor, William Farris, professor emeritus of Japanese history at the University of Hawaii, believes warriors in the region could have buried it during the Kamakura period. Additionally, medieval coin expert Ethan Segal says it would not be surprising if researchers find that many of the coins are from the Chinese Northern Song dynasty (960 to 1127). Japan stopped producing its own coins around the 10th century due to a lack of copper ore and used foreign coins, often Chinese specimens, for commerce. After being overrun by the nomadic Jurchen people, the Northern Song dynasty’s coinage lost value and became popular for foreign use.

Some of the coins found are on display in the lobby of the Maebashi cultural protection division, and researchers continue to examine the issues to determine their date and depositor.