Four ancient coins believed to date back to the fourth century were recently discovered at the ruins of Katsuren Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site on the Japanese island. Excavations have been ongoing at the site since 2013 by a team of archaeologists from Uruma City’s Board of Education.
Each of the coins show worn surfaces and have diameters between 1.6 and 2 cm. X-ray examination shows an image of Constantine the First of the Byzantine Empire on the coins, along with the depiction of a soldier holding a spear.
This marks the first time that artefacts of this type have been discovered in Japan and shows just how far coins from the Byzantine Empire travelled in the world. Okinawa’s trade with Southeast Asia is thought to have been strong during that period, but the new discovery indicates early trade between Okinawa and the Western world.
Other relics found at the site include a coin from the 17th century Ottoman Empire and five other metallic items. The coins will be on display at Uruma City Yonagusuku Historical Museum in Okinawa until November.