A group of Chinese archaeologists has discovered evidence of the world’s oldest coin production in Henan Province — its age exceeds 2,600 years. The scientists described their findings in the journal Antiquity.
It is believed that the use of coins as a means of payment began in the territories of modern Turkey, China, and India. Coins were already used in the Lydian kingdom. The oldest of them date back to 630 BC, and the age of the oldest discovered Lydian mint is about 2500 years. Mints of a similar age have been found on the territory of China, but they can only be dated relatively and only by the remains of ceramics.
During the excavations of a foundry workshop in the city of Guanzhuan, founded around 800 BC in central China, researchers from Zhengzhou and Peking Universities discovered bronze shovel-shaped coins and clay molds in which they were made. Millet seeds and coals from fires where metal was melted were also found in the same pit in which they were found. According to them, the age of the finds was determined by the method of radiocarbon dating — it was more than 2600 years. According to researchers, the mint began minting coins at least in 640 BC, which makes it the oldest in the world. He continued his activity until at least 550 BC.
Researchers suggest that the production in Guanzhuang did not begin its activity immediately with the minting of coins. Before that, for about 150 years, it had been manufacturing tools and weapons. It is still unclear, scientists note, what made the ancient Chinese engage in the production of coins: perhaps it facilitated the exchange of goods between merchants or the collection of taxes by the state.