Over forty East Roman coins have been found in China over the past hundred years but many of
them have no archaeological context, so it is almost impossible to establish
when they got the Celestial Empire. Besides,
a significant part of the finds are rather crude initially or heavily worn.
Fake coin printing was also frequent on the Silk Road.
It is believed that sometimes this was not even malicious intent — Byzantine
and Iranian coins acted as stable monetary units, the position of which was
stronger because China, with all its role in international trade had been
fragmented starting from the 3rd century CE for hundred years. And
this fragmentation, in contrast, for example, with the Eastern Zhou period
(771—221 BCE), was accompanied by the constant emergence and disappearance of
kingdoms and empires, which rarely existed for more than one century
(especially in the north). Of course, in such a “political climate” the value
of foreign coins, which had a standard mass and precious metal content,
increased significantly. It is no less obvious that this prompted many to
produce solidus “analogs” in an artisanal way, and such “craftsmen” could act
on areas from Near East to the Yellow Sea.
Genuine and questionable coins of the Eastern Roman Empire are spread along
the Silk Road (modern Xinjiang Uygur and Ningxia-Hui
autonomous regions, Gansu, Shaanxi
and Henan provinces, partly also south of Inner Mongolia). For example, in the area of Xi'an city, the bright
find of Justinian solidus (the authors of the excavations, however, tend to
regard the coin as belonging to Justinian's reign) was printed in the tomb
(571 CE) of the Sogdian Kan Ye. We put this golden
coin into circulation in 2018. However, the study of Byzantine coins in China sheds light on events in the Eastern Roman Empire itself. The “conjugation” of the processes
described above is the focus of this work.
Key words: China, Eastern Roman Empire, solids, Silk
Road, Kang Ye.