600-year-old coin found in Kenya reveals trade between China and eastern Africa

Updated March 13, 2013 at 9:01 PM
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On Wednesday The Field Museum in Chicago announced that scientists from Illinois had found a rare, 600-year-old coin on the Kenyan island of Manda, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The expedition that led to the find was led by Chapurukha Kusimba, the curator of African Anthropology at the museum and Sloan Williams of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Scientist believe the coin was issued by Emperor Yongle of China as his name is written on the coin.

The copper and silver coin, called "Yongle Tongbao," proves that China and eastern Africa engaged in trading activities long before the Europeans sailed to discover the new world.

The coin is currently off display at the Field, as scientist are studying it to make sure it's legitimate.

"It is exciting," Kusimba said. "But whether it turns out to be fake it is still extremely exciting. It speaks to the competition going on between merchants, the kind of competition that is still visible today."

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