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Origin, Evolution, and Circulation of Foreign Coins in the Indian Ocean

Osmund Bopearachchi (Editor) D.P.M. Weerakkody (Editor)

Proceeding of the Numismatic Workshop "Origin and Evolution of Coins" and the International Seminar "Circulation of Foreign Coins in Sri Lanka and Ancient Sea Routes in the Indian Ocean," Colombo, 8-10 September 1994.

In its 2500 years of history, Sri Lanka has been internationally recognized as an important cultural, religious, political and, above all, commercial centre in South Asia. With its central position in the Indian Ocean and an array of natural harbours, esturies and navigable rivers, it has linked commercial routes of the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Western India with Eastern India, Southeast Asia and Far East. And Sri Lanka is also known to have its own exports of precious stones, ivory, tortoise shells, textiles, spices, and the like. Resultantly, a large number of foreign coins came into circulation in the island. Notable among these are the punch-marked Kusana-and-Gupta coins from North India; Pandya, Chola, Pallava and Chera coins from South India; Roman and Byzantine coins from the West; and the Chinese coins from the East -- besides Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian, Western Ksatrapas, Satavahana and Parthian coins.

Since H W Codrington''s Ceylon Coins and Currency, published in 1924, this book is the first to painstakingly explore the origin, evolution and circulation of foreign coins in Sri Lanka. Essentially the outcome of a Numismatic Workshop and an International Seminar, it carries, in two parts, a selection of ''revised'' papers presented at the twin event. Part 1 includes the ''Workshop'' presentations focusing on a variety of coins: ranging from the origin of Chinese and Greek coins to modern bank notes. Part 2, embodying the presentations of the International Seminar, unveils Roman, Chinese, Indian and Islamic coins circulating not only in Sri Lanka, but also in several other countries of the Indian Ocean. The volume also carries a few articles that interestingly set out the early European coins and paper money: either minted or printed in Europe, but circulated in Sri Lanka.

The Numismatic Workshop on the "Origin and Evolution of Coins" and the International Seminar on the "Circulation of Foreign Coins in Sri Lanka and Ancient Sea Routes in the Indian Ocean" were organized by the Sri Lanka Society for Numismatic Studies and the French Mission of Archaeological Cooperation in Sri Lanka, with the collaboration of the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka, in Colombo.

Osmund Bopearachchi is President, Sri Lanka Society for Numismatic Studies and also Director, French Mission of Archaeological Cooperation in Sri Lanka. The co-editor, D P M Weerakkody is Associate Professor, Department of Classical Languages, University of Peradeniya.



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About the author
In the spotlight

Osmund Bopearachchi

Osmund Bopearachchi is a numismatist, historian and archaeologist. He has authored twelve books, edited six books and published 162 research articles in reputed international journals. He has read 91 papers at international colloquia; presented 275 conferences in 80 cities, and has carried out 120 archaeological missions in 24 different countries.  Going beyond the traditional approach of simply cataloguing coins, he has made an attempt to link numismatics with sculptural and pictorial iconography. These attempts made him more and more interested in diverse art forms in ancient India. The exhibition catalogues that he has edited and co-authored, the international colloquia that he has organised and published and the numerous research articles that he has written are the outcome of his deep-seated interest in Central Asian and South Asian archaeology, art and architecture.  Prof. Bopearachchi holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), and B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. all with first class passes from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University.  Prof. Bopearachchi currently serves as the director of the Sri Lanka-French Archaeological Mission, and also has launched a joint project with the Department of Near-Eastern Studies of the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Sri Lanka’s role in ancient maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.  He recently published a book on Gandhāran art entitled: “When West Met East: Gandhāran Art Revisted (Manohar, Delhi, 2020) based on a selection of hitherto unknown masterpieces from Gandhāra and Greater Gandhāra dispersed in museums and private collections in Japan, Europe, Canada and United States of America. At present he is working on a new catalogue of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Coins.

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Bibliographic information

Title Origin, Evolution, and Circulation of Foreign Coins in the Indian Ocean
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.1998
Edition 1st.ed.
Language: English
isbn 8173042152
length xiii+272p., Illustrations; Maps; 29cm.