Gold imitation of a Byzantine coin found in China


British Museum

British Museum

Gold imitations of Byzantine solidi have been found at various sites in China, mostly in the tombs of wealthy people in northern China, buried between the fourth and eighth centuries AD. It is likely that the coins were treasured prestige items of the rich.Gold coins are mentioned in written documents found in the tombs of the Astana cemetery. For example, burial lists of the mid-sixth to mid-seventh centuries outlining the contents of the tomb often refer specifically to gold coins. Despite this, actual gold coins are not often found in the tombs, so it may be that the lists were wishful thinking.It seems that the practice of including real or imagined gold coins in tombs was only common for about one hundred years as earlier documents refer to gold by weight rather than to coins, and later documents simply list 'sufficient gold and silver'.

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  • Title: Gold imitation of a Byzantine coin found in China
  • Date Created: 500/599
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 0.85g; Diameter: 16.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: IA,XII.c.1
  • Production place: Minted in Xinjiang
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Astana
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Stein, Marc Aurel


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