Saturday, June 20, 1998

Date of Roman coins found near Srivilliputhur assessed

Date: 20-06-1998 :: Pg: 05
By Our Staff Reporter
MADURAI, June 19.

A team of archaeologists, which examined the Roman gold coins found recently at Nathampatti village near Srivilliputhur, was able to assess the exact date of the coins and the kings who issued them. According to a press release from Mr. C. Santhalingam, the Archaeological Officer of Tirumalai Naicker Mahal here, the three-member team comprising Mr. V. Vedachalam, Mr. C. Santhalingam and Mr. C. Chandravanan, under the directions of Mr. Natana. Kasinathan, Director of Archaeology, examined the coins. The coins were unearthed when the local people were engaged in laying water pipes. They were handed over to the police.

The team's findings pointed out that the nine coins had been issued by the Byzantine rulers. While five coins belonged to the period of King Theodosius II (402-450 AD), the other four belonged to that of King Leo I (457-474 AD). The team observed that all the coins have a same weight of 3.00 gms and 2 cm. diametre and are in good state of preservation.

The obverse of all the coins have same figures of a bust of richly dressed and well ornamented King with the legend denoting the name of the King DN Theodosius Augustus and DN Leo. On the reverse side, five coins have the standing figures of Victoria with winged shoulder and holding a cross in her right hand. The legend reads as VICTORIAAVVCCE. The other three coins have a seated King CONCORDI with cross and Sceptre in two hands. The other coins have some different figures and different legends like SALVS REPUBLIC AE and VOL NURI. The mint Constantinople where these coins were minted, is mentioned as CONOB. Seven coins have two holes which might have been used to insert strings to wear as ornaments. The rest two have  no holes."

Many Roman coins were found in Kerala and the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu, which served as main resources of foreign trade. But most of these coins belong to the early period of Christian era (i.e.) 1-2 CAD. Roman coins were also found at one or two places in Tamil Nadu but meagre in number. Places like Alagankulam, Kulathupalayam, Mamallapuram had yielded Roman Coins of 4 CAD. Large amount of coins were collected from Madurai and Karur. They were all of copper. For the first time gold coins of 5 CAD has been found at Tamil Nadu. Scholars opined that Roman trade with Tamil Nadu almost ceased in the 2 or 3 CAD. But these new finds of gold coins had proved that the trade continued upto 5 CAD. Similar type of coins of King Theodosius II and Leo I were already unearthed in Akkiyalur hoard in Karnataka.

End of article in the Hindu

Other Evidences

"A History of India," (Volume 1) by Romila Thapar (New Delhi, Penguin Books India (P) Ltd., 1966)

"The most profitable overseas trade was the Roman trade with South India. Yavana merchants (i.e. merchants from western Asia and the Mediterranean) had trading establishments both in the Satavahana kingdoms and in those of the far south. Early Tamil literature describes Yavana ships arriving with their cargoes at the city of Kaveripattinam. The Periplus Maris Erythreae, a maritime geography of the east-west trade, written in about the first century AD, gives details of the commodities carried and the routes taken by traders and ships. The route for trade then proceeds round the tip of the peninsula and up the coast, where of all the ports mentioned there we have now fairly detailed knowledge of one—Arikamedu (known to the Periplus as Padouke), where extensive excavations in 1945 uncovered a sizeable Roman settlement which was a trading station, it would seem that the Romans were using Arikamedu from the first century BC to the early second century AD. The frequency of hoards of Roman coins found in the Deccan and south India indicate the volume of this trade. Most of the urban centers of the south were ports which prospered on this trade, such as Kaverippattinam" (pg 114 – 115).

"Although the economic impact of the Roman trade was more evident in southern India, the impact of Romano-Greek ideas and artifacts was more evident in the north. Exchange of merchandise led inevitably to an exchange of ideas." (pg 118)


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