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600-Year-Old Chinese Coin Found in Africa
March 13, 2013

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Researchers have found a 600-year-old Chinese coin in Kenya, suggesting that trade between the two areas was taking place earlier than has long been thought.

The tiny silver and copper coin has a square hole in the middle, so it could be worn on a belt. The coin is of the type called "Yongle Tonbgao," after the 15th Century Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle.

Yongle ruled China from 1403 to 1425. One of his most notable achievements was the encouragement of explorers, such as the famous Admiral Zheng He, to see the world, particularly the land surrounding the Indian Ocean, including eastern Africa. Chinese rulers who followed Yongle discontinued the exploration policy, and European nations took up the chase.

The researchers, from the Field Museum and the University of Illinois at Chicago, found the coin on the island of Manda, amid some artifacts and human remains that are older than the coin.



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