2,100-year old Coin Manufacture Workshop Ruins Found at Ancient City-site in Inner Mongolia
The Huoluochaideng city-site is located in Xini Township, Hangjin Baner of Erdos, Inner Mongolia. The plane of the ancient city is flat, with the north part somewhat higher, which now are cultivated as grassland and farmland. It has a rectangular layout. Pottery and brick fragments are found everywhere, which could be remains from Wu Emperor of West Han dynasty to Xin Mang period (157 BC – 23 AD). In August 2012, the Cultural Relics and Archaeological Institute of Inner Mongolia and Hangjin Banner Cultural Relics Administration Office have conducted jointly an excavation to three coin hoards within the site. A ruin of coin manufacture workshop has been found in the northwest of the site, yielding thousands of kilograms of ancient coins, which are mostly Huoquan coins.
The second excavation has been carried out in 2013, covering an area of over 500 square meters. Archaeologists discovered 4 coin manufacture kilns, among which the Kiln Y1 and Y4 are in good state of preservation. The kilns have a rectangular plane, with a fire chamber, a flame path and an entrance on one side. The rectangular bricks used to build the kiln are inscribed with the Chinese characters as “六” and “土”, which could be numbers for kiln bricks. As many as more than 150 pieces of coin clay models and 20 pieces of other clay moulds are collected in the kilns and its vicinity. There are also ancient coins, ceramics, bronze and iron objects, stone tools and a great deal of slags and animal bones. The Xin Mang coin models, made of ceramic, consist of the obverse and the reverse two sides model. The inscriptions are mainly daquan wushi and xiaoquan zhiyi. 9 pieces of models bear specific year inscription, such as shijianguo yuannian sanyue, that is 9 AD.
The rectangular kilns with a fire chamber and a flame path
Unearthed coin clay models
The ancient coins include daquan wushi, xiaoquan zhiyi, huoquan, banliang and wuzhu. In the kilns and the vicinity appear some Western Han coins like banliang and wuzhu, however, mostly incomplete. They have not been trimmed and polished, obviously not yet entering the circulation. Analysis to the models and coins show that the site could last a quite long period from Wu Emperor to Xin Mang period (157 BC – 23 AD).
The rectangular bricks used to build the kiln
The four kilns all have one or two layers of white hard clay on the bottom. A section of shallow trench has been found in the northwest of the site, which could be drainage system. The plane of the coin manufacture workshop ruin is in rectangular shape, and there are four kilns arranged in good order. In its vicinity there are certain places for making mud bricks. The whole arrangement of the workshop is the first found of its kind.
Unearthed tile-end carved with Chinese character
Seen from the unearthed models and coins, daquan wushi, xiaoquan zhiyi and huoquan could be local products. The workshop ruin suggests that Erdos was then an economy prosperous area. The discovery of kilns, coins hoards and inscribed models are of great value for studying the currency policy and casting technology of Western Han and Xin Mang period. (Translator: Tong Tao)