600-Year-Old Rare Coin Found In Kenya May Change History


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Thanks to the discovery numerous Portuguese chronicles, historians have always believed that it was Vasco Da Gama, the Portuguese explorer that sailed around Africa to India and back between 1497 and 1499, who first began trading with East Africa. However, the recent discovery of a rare coin in Kenya, may convince them to rethink that theory.

The 600-year old copper and silver disk that has a hole in the center possibly to be worn on a belt, was unearthed in early December 2012, on the very first day of a three-month dig conducted on the island of Manda, Kenya, by Charles Kusimba from Chicago's Field Museum and Sloan R. Williams from the University of Illinois.

Researchers believe that the coin, which was issued between 1403-1425 and bears the name of Emperor Yongle, head of the Ming Dynasty, proves that it was the Chinese, not the Portuguese who were the first to discover and trade with the eastern coast of Africa. They speculate that it may have been Commander Zheng He, who was known to have gone on several voyages to explore the lands bordering the Indian Ocean to try expand Chinese trade and political influence.

However, following Emperor Yongle's death, the relationship came to halt because the new leaders were not as forward thinking and banned all international trading. This, is what paved the way for European explorers like Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus to discover new worlds and trade in goods like ivory and silk.

The coin is currently being authenticated by experts to ensure that it is indeed a genuine coin issued by the Chinese emperor. If it proves to be, the archeologists will head back to the Island at the end of this year, to see what other important information about the trading relationship between Europe and Asia they can dig up at what is believed to be the oldest site in Sub-Saharan Africa.


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  • 14252over 6 years
    I thought it was a cookie!
    • Dominickover 6 years
      maybe the Portuguese traded with the Chinese before they sailed around north Africa maybe they had traded for the coin and it ended up there. Yet we were not there so we don't know. But i know that before the Chinese banned trading they traded with they Portuguese.
      • michaeljackson
        michaeljacksonabout 3 years
        Maybe thats true!! or the kenyans traded with some country close to China like India or Korea and the other trader had a Chinese coin!!
      • Jacobyover 6 years
        It actually is a Chinese coin because as you can see only Chinese coins have a square middle. If you also look up the Chinese alphabet you will see that the writing refers to Chinese letters.
        • sappy_scientist
          sappy_scientistover 6 years
          Its weird how much one object can change what we know
          • xandrewpx
            xandrewpxover 6 years
            I think it is a Korean coin because it looks like one. And many time people mistake Chinese for Korean
          • Dog loveralmost 7 years
            • bibliophile
              bibliophilealmost 7 years
              • roccoabout 7 years
                how can a coin be 600 years old
                • lukeover 7 years
                  this is awesome
                  • sete
                    seteover 7 years
                    Love money!