Interesting item from the Times of India:
Coins are not only used as a mode of exchange but they also reflect heritage. Indian-Roman relations was one such area where coins played a major role in establishing and strengthening ties between two countries.
At a special exhibition on Roman coins and other Roman antiquities found in South India, inaugurated by the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre director Angela Trezza at the Government Museum in Egmore on Tuesday, rare coins and antiquities were put on display for the public. “The exhibition will showcase the story of Rome-India contacts through artefacts, photographs and charts. The museum has the biggest collection of Roman coins 4,000 outside Europe,” TS Sridhar, secretary and commissioner of museums, told The Times Of India.
The exhibition, jointly organised by the Government Museum, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre and Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be open everyday between 10am and 4.30pm till February 2 at the museum’s centenary exhibition hall.
Historically, trade between ancient Rome and India can be traced to the rule of Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). Romans came to India in search of gemstones (mainly beryl), silk, cotton, ivory, spices (pepper and cardamom), sandalwood and peacocks. In return, India obtained coral, wine, olive oil and metals like gold, silver and copper.
Metals imported from Rome were mostly in the form of coins and medals. “The most striking feature of Roman coins found in India is that they have slash marks on them, generally 1 to 2 mm long and marked by a knife or a chisel or a file. In Tamil Nadu, Pudukkottai and Soriyapattu are the most important Roman coin hoards containing such slashed coins,” said N Sundararajan, curator, Numismatics section of Government Museum.
Another peculiar feature of the coins found in India is the occurrence of countermarks on some. Roman coins found in India are of gold, silver and copper mostly between 2nd century BC and 6-7th century AD the closing years of the Roman Republic to the time of Byzantine rulers. A majority of the Roman coins found in India occur as hoards buried underground in earthenware pots.
The range of coins is somewhat surprising, but even more surprising (isn’t it?) is that revelation that hoards have been found in India in pots just as they have been found all over the Empire. That would suggest settlement, wouldn’t it? Or was burying coins in pots a sort of ‘universal’ thing? The slash thing (as seen on the accompanying photo … not sure if it is part of the exhibition) is also a very interesting feature and clearly seems to be a way to check whether a coin was solid or merely plated.