Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-ndmmz Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-20T09:32:18.266Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Radiocarbon-dating an early minting site: the emergence of standardised coinage in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2021

Hao Zhao*
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Xiangping Gao
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Yuchao Jiang
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Yi Lin
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Jin Zhu
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Sicong Ding
Affiliation:
School of History, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Lijun Deng
Affiliation:
Modern Analysis and Computer Center of Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Ji Zhang
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, P.R. China
*
*Author for correspondence ✉ haozhao@zzu.edu.cn

Abstract

The origins of metal coinage and the monetisation of ancient economies have long been a research focus in both archaeology and economic history. Recent excavations of an Eastern Zhou period (c. 770–220 BC) bronze foundry at Guanzhuang in Henan Province, China, have yielded clay moulds for casting spade coins. The technical characteristics of the moulds demonstrate that the site functioned as a mint for producing standardised coins. Systematic AMS radiocarbon-dating indicates that well-organised minting developed c. 640–550 BC, making Guanzhuang the world's oldest-known, securely dated minting site. This discovery provides important new data for exploring the origin of monetisation in ancient China.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Antiquity Publications Ltd.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

van Alfen, P. & Wartenberg, U. (ed.). 2019. White gold: studies in early electrum coinage. New York: American Numismatic Society.Google Scholar
Andrew, R. & Craddock, P.. 2000. King Croesus’ gold; excavations at Sardis and the history of gold refining. London: British Museum.Google Scholar
Bammer, A. 1990. A peripteros of the Geometric period in the Artemision of Ephesus. Anatolian Studies 40: 137–60. https://doi.org/10.2307/3642799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2017. Methods for summarizing radiocarbon datasets. Radiocarbon 59: 1809–33. https://doi.org/10.1017/RDC.2017.108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cahill, N. & Kroll, J.H.. 2005. New archaic coin finds at Sardis. American Journal of Archaeology 109: 589617. https://doi.org/10.3764/aja.109.4.589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cai, Y. & Yu, F.. 1985. Preliminary research on hollow-handle spade coins, in Xuthus, Zhongguo Qianbi (ed.) Zhongguo Qianbi Lunwenji: 80–102. Beijing: Zhongguo Jinrong.Google Scholar
Camp, J.M. & Kroll, J.H.. 2001. The Agora mint and Athenian bronze coinage. Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 70: 127–62. https://doi.org/10.2307/2668480Google Scholar
Chen, C. & Liu, Y.. 2014. The excavation of the Western Zhou remains at Guanzhuang site in Xingyang City, Henan. Kaogu 8: 2037.Google Scholar
Cribb, J. 2003. The origins of the Indian coinage tradition. South Asian Studies 19: 119. https://doi.org/10.1080/02666030.2003.9628617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eerkens, J.W. 2000. Practice makes within 5% of perfect: visual perception, motor skills, and memory in artifact variation. Current Anthropology 41: 663–68. https://doi.org/10.1086/317394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Emura, H. 2011. Formation and development of bronze coins during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Tokyo: Kyuko Shoin.Google Scholar
von Falkenhausen, L. 2008. Stages in the development of ‘cities’ in pre-imperial China, in Marcus, J. & Sabloff, J.A. (ed.) The ancient city: new perspectives on urbanism in the Old and New World: 209–28. Santa Fe (NM): School of Advanced Studies.Google Scholar
Figueira, T. 1998. The power of money; coinage and politics in the Athenian Empire. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812201901CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Han, G. & Chen, K.. 2019. On the relocation of Zheng to the east. Journal of Zhengzhou University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition) 52: 7177.Google Scholar
Han, G. & Zhu, J.. 2013. The excavation of the west zone of the Guanzhuang site in Xingyang City, Henan. Kaogu 3: 314.Google Scholar
Han, G., Chen, K. & Liu, Y.. 2016. The excavation of the city site of the Zhou Dynasty at Guanzhuang, in Xingyang City, Henan. Kaogu 8: 2540.Google Scholar
Head, B.V. 1908. The coins, in Hogarth, D.G. (ed.) Excavations at Ephesus: the archaic Artemisia: 7493. London: British Museum.Google Scholar
Hu, J. 2010. On the hollow-handle spade coins from Zhongshan Lingshoucheng. China Numismatics 1: 611.Google Scholar
Huang, X. 2001. Studies on the pre-Imperial coinage of China. Beijing: Zijincheng.Google Scholar
Institute of Archaeology of Shanxi Province. 1993. The bronze foundry site at Houma. Beijing: Wenwu.Google Scholar
Institute of Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province. 2006. Sacrificial sites of the Zheng polity at Xinzheng. Zhengzhou: Daxiang.Google Scholar
Kakinuma, Y. 2014. The emergence and spread of coins in China from the Spring and Autumn period to the Warring States period, in Bernholz, P. & Vaubel, R. (ed.) Explaining monetary and financial innovation: 79126. Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-06109-2_5Google Scholar
Karwiese, S. 1991. The Artemisium coin hoard and the first coins of Ephesus. Revue Belge de Numismatique 137: 128.Google Scholar
Kerschner, M. & Konuk, K.. 2019. Electrum coins and their archaeological context: the case of the Artemision of Ephesus, in van Alfen, P. & Wartenberg, U. (ed.) White gold: studies in early electrum coinage: 83190. New York: American Numismatic Society.Google Scholar
Kraay, C. 1964. Hoards, small change and the origin of coinage. Journal of Hellenic Studies 84: 7691. https://doi.org/10.2307/627696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kroll, J.H. 2008. The monetary use of weighed bullion in archaic Greece, in Harris, W.V. (ed.) The monetary systems of the Greeks and Romans: 1337. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199233359.003.0002Google Scholar
Li, Y. 2003. On the function of cowries in Shang and Western Zhou China. Journal of East Asian Archaeology 5: 126. https://doi.org/10.1163/156852303776172999Google Scholar
Ma, J., Zhu, S., Heng, Y. & Cheng, Y.. 2012. Excavation report of the Spring–Autumn mint site at Xinzheng Jianyu. China Numismatics 4: 4656.Google Scholar
Metcalf, W.E. 2012. The Oxford handbook of Greek and Roman coinage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195305746.001.0001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peng, K. 2000. Coinage and commercial development in Eastern Zhou China. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
Reimer, P.J. et al. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50 000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55: 1869–87. https://doi.org/10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, E.S.G. 1951. The coins from the Ephesian Artemision reconsidered. Journal of Hellenic Studies 71: 156–67. https://doi.org/10.2307/628197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schaps, D.M. 2004. The invention of coinage and the monetization of ancient Greece. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.17760Google Scholar
Scheidel, W. 2008. The divergent evolution of coinage in Eastern and Western Eurasia, in Harris, W.V. (ed.) The monetary systems of the Greeks and Romans: 267–86. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199233359.003.0014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stuiver, M. et al. 1998. IntCal98 radiocarbon age calibration, 24 000–0 cal BP. Radiocarbon 40: 1041–83. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033822200019123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Su, R. 2019. Technology and art of Chinese bronzes. Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe.Google Scholar
Wallace, R.W. 1987. The origin of electrum coinage. American Journal of Archaeology 91: 385–97. https://doi.org/10.2307/505360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wallace, R.W. 2006. Kukalim, Walwet, and the Artemision deposit: problems in early Anatolian electrum coinage, in van Alfen, P. (ed.) Agoranomia: studies in money and exchange presented to John H. Kroll: 3748. New York: American Numismatic Society.Google Scholar
Wang, Q. 1988. Catalogue of Chinese coins in history. Shanghai: Shanghai Renmin Press.Google Scholar
Wang, T. & Wang, H.. 2010. Issues in the research of pointed-shoulder spade coins of the Eastern Zhou period, in Wenxian Yu Guwenzi Yanjiu Zhongxin, Fudan Daxue Chutu (ed.) International symposium to commemorate the second anniversary of Mr Paul Thompson's death. Available at: http://www.gwz.fudan.edu.cn/Web/Show/1086 (accessed 20 September 2020).Google Scholar
Wang, Y. 1957. Origin and development of Chinese ancient coins. Beijing: Kexue.Google Scholar
Wu, L. 2004. The typological relationship between pointed-shoulder hollow-handle spade coins and flat-shoulder hollow-handle spade coins. China Numismatics: 1316.Google Scholar
Yue, Z., Wang, X., He, Y., Tang, J. & Gu, F.. 2007. 2003–2004 excavation of a Shang bronze foundry-site at Xiaomintun in Anyang City, Henan. Kaogu 10: 5577.Google Scholar
Zhao, H., Gao, X. & Ding, S.. 2020. Brief report on the 2016–2017 excavation of the bronze-casting workshop area at the Guanzhuang site in Xingyang City, Henan. Kaogu 10: 1425.Google Scholar
Zheng, J. 1958. History of Chinese ancient coinage. Beijing: Sanlian Shudian.Google Scholar
Zhou, W. 2004. Chinese coins: alloy composition and metallurgical research. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju.Google Scholar
Zhu, H. 1984. New exploration of ancient coins. Jinan: Qilu Shushe.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

Zhao et al. supplementary material

Zhao et al. supplementary material

Download Zhao et al. supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 563.9 KB