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All Posts Tagged With: "Asukaike Ruins"

Ancient Fuhonsen Coins May be Japan’s Oldest Minted Currency

Fuhonsen Coins from ASUKAJapan’s money economy began earlier than textbooks have described when archaeologists unveiled 33 bronze coins from the late seventh century unearthed in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture in 1998.

Now ten years latter, Nine Fuhonsen coins, which are thought to be the nation’s oldest form of minted currency, unearthed at a former site of Fujiwarakyu, the ancient capital from 694 to 710, in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, differ slightly from previously discovered Fuhonsen coins, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties

The finding suggests there may have been another mint in addtion to one discovered at Asukaike ruin in Asukamura.

Minor differences were found in the kanji character “Fu” used on the surface of the coins and a thicker frame surrounding a square hole in the center of the coins. The materials of four of the coins included arsenic and bismuth, and very pure copper.

The coins discovered in August 1998 at the Asukaike Ruins in Asuka, are older than the Wado Kaichin coins first minted in 708, thus bumping them from the archaeological record books as the nation’s first circulated money.

The bronze coins, whose existence has been known for some time, are called Fuhonsen, the name of a charm believed used during the Nara Period (710-784).
Empress jitoThe time at which Fuhonsen coins were minted falls into the Fujiwarakyo Period (694-710), which is based in modern-day Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, where three sovereigns — Empress Jito Emperor Monmu and Empress Genmei — once held court.

The research institute said the 1998 findings prove that Fujiwarakyo was aimed at creating a polity with solid political and economical structures based on the Taiho Code (Taiho Ritsuryo) of 701.

The code consisted of six volumes of penal law (ritsu) and 11 volumes of administrative law (ryo), modeled after the legal code of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907). The researchers said the coins may have been cast under the order of Emperor Tenmu, husband of Empress Jito. (more…)