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Rare Chinese coin found on Kenya island Manda


The island of Manda, Kenya where an ancient Chinese coin was found by American researchers. The coin builds on evidence of Chinese trade in Africa before European exploration.


Simon Maina

A Chinese coin issued during the Ming Dynasty was found on an island off of Kenya recently.

The 600-year-old copper and silver coin adds to evidence of trade between China and East Africa before European explorers arrived on the continent.

The expedition on the island of Manda was led by Chapurukha Kusimba of the Field Museum in Chicago and Sloan Williams of the University of Illinois-Chicago, reported the Associated Press.

The coin is inscribed with the name of the Chinese Emperor Yongle who reigned between 1403 and 1425.

Emperor Yongle was the first to begin construction of Beijing's Forbidden City.

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Yongle was also the last Chinese ruler to actively promote exploration abroad with help from his admiral Cheng Ho, whose real name was Zheng He.

"Zheng He was, in many ways, the Christopher Columbus of China," said Kusimba, reported PhysOrg.

"It's wonderful to have a coin that may ultimately prove he came to Kenya."

The coin has a square hole in the center so that it could be worn on a belt, reported The Province.

“This finding is significant," said Kusimba in a press release.

"We know Africa has always been connected to the rest of the world, but this coin opens a discussion about the relationship between China and Indian Ocean nations.”