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afterwards would think it necessary to place such early coins in the new relic-rooms. The presence of the coins therefore is very strong evidence that it was only at the spoliation in the time of the Pandian king Magha (1215-1236 A.D.) that the relic-chambers were rifled. The finding of the carnelian gem belonging to the royal seal, to which allusion has been made in a former chapter, is a further proof that this was the case. At the Yaṭṭhāla dagaba, which I often saw before its restoration, I could not observe the slightest evidence of any restoration or rebuilding of the dome, though I looked carefully for it; only one size of bricks was used in it, and those in the dome were all unbroken and evidently undisturbed ones. It may be concluded, therefore, that the relic-chambers remained intact until the thirteenth century; and that the Purānas were placed in these dagabas in the third century B.C., and were lost or thrown away by the persons who broke into the structures in the time of the Tamil king Magha.
In 1885, several of these coins were discovered at Mulleittivu under circumstances that gave them a special interest. A man who was in charge of a small coconut garden on the north side of the town, where the soil all around is full of fragments of a rough type of pottery, as the result of an unusual fit of energy determined to level a mound of sandy material, and to utilise the soil for filling up some hollows near it. When he reached the level of the adjoining ground he was surprised to meet with the top of a large ring of coarse earthenware such as is used in Ceylon by some of the Kandian Sinhalese for lining wells at their houses. On clearing the sandy soil out of the inside of this ring he found others below it, and discovered that he had unearthed an ancient shallow well at the bottom of which there was fresh water. The rings were 3 feet in internal diameter; the top one was 6 inches deep and the others about 8 inches. At the present day such welllinings are from 2 feet to 2 feet in diameter, and about an inch thick.
At a short distance above the water-level, and embedded in the sand, he obtained a number of silver Purānas, and
some thin oblong copper plaques which proved to be an entirely new type of money 1 described by me in the previous year from specimens obtained at Tissa. The total number of Purānas was 51, and of the plaques 16. The late Mr. R. Massie, the Assistant Government Agent of the district, obtained nine of the plaques, out of which he presented four to the Colombo Museum, two to me, and at a later date two to the British Museum. I got the other seven when I visited the place shortly afterwards.
It would appear that the original owner of this money, possibly fearing the result of some disturbance or war, first threw some sand into his well and placed his small stock of cash on it; he then filled up the well and to mark the spot raised over it the mound to which its modern discovery was due, little expecting that more than two thousand years would elapse before it would be disinterred.
In addition to these coins four other oblong plaques were found by me at Tissa in 1883, in excavating channels from two sluices at the Tissa tank, and I obtained two halves of others from a neighbouring village. The position of these coins enables us to fix the date of the earliest type of this money as yet discovered.
At the end of the embankment of the Tissa tank, on the high side of a hollow or small water-course, there had been a village of potters and other artizans who were accustomed to throw the ashes and rubbish from their houses and furnaces into the hollow, which thus became a kind of 'Kjökken-mödding.' Afterwards, soil carried down by rains covered up this deposit, and eventually filled all the hollow to the depth of eighteen feet at the deepest part. By a lucky accident, a channel from a new sluice was cut by me through this very site, and numerous articles belonging to the ancient workpeople were met with, including thousands of fragments of pottery, some few of which were inscribed with letters of the
1 Doubts have been expressed as to whether the plaques were coins or votive offerings, but I was led to understand that the authorities of the British Museum do not share them. I have shown below that all the early Indian and Ceylon coins were amulets as well as money.
earliest angular type which is certainly of pre-Christian date. In two instances there are words on the upturned sides of rice-plates, which appear to be the names of the persons for whom they were made. One was inscribed Gapati Sivasa, 'the householder Siva's'; the last letter is near the broken edge of the fragment of earthenware, and possibly the name of this person's son followed it. The other, which is also incomplete, iske Dayapusaha Aba, 'Abhaya, (son) of Dayapusa '; the missing word may have been gamike, 'the villager,' or bojike, 'the headman.' On all other fragments only one or two letters were found.
From the primitive forms of the letters, which do not include a single round s, or the rounded vowels or lengthened k or r, which stamp the date on post-Christian writing, it appears certain that the letters on the pottery in the upper part of this stratum, which were all written on the earthenware before it was baked, were inscribed at the latest three-quarters of a century before the Christian era, while those in the lowest part most probably date from the second and third centuries B.C., when the construction of the large dagabas and other important monastic edifices must have necessitated the presence of a large force of workmen. On many of the bricks laid in the Yaṭṭhāla and Mahānāga dāgabas similar letters were written or stamped before they were burnt.
The lowest stratum of remains was four feet thick in its lowest part, which was eighteen feet below the surface of the ground. In the very bottom of this layer one of the oblong coins (No. 1) was unearthed in 1883 in my presence, and it must, I believe, belong to the third century B.C. A second (No. 2) was taken out of another part of the same stratum, and therefore probably belongs to either the second or third century B.C. A third (No. 3) was found slightly above the pottery layer, and may be a century or perhaps two later than these. A fourth (No. 4) was met with at the remains of some early dwellings that were cut through in opening a channel from another sluice at this tank. The fragments of pottery which were found there were similar to those at the former cutting, and some bricks were of the same dimensions
as those used in the great dagaba of Maha-Naga and appeared to have been made in the very same moulds. This coin, therefore, may also possibly date from the first, second, or third century B.C.
At the excavations made subsequently at Anuradhapura, twelve specimens of the oblong coins were found by Mr. S. M. Burrows, late of the Ceylon Civil Service, behind the northern wāhalkaḍa at the Abhayagiri dāgaba,1 and others were discovered by Mr. Bell, near the Jētawanārāma, but so far as I am aware not under circumstances which afford a clue to their age. It may be assumed that those having the simpler designs on them are of pre-Christian manufacture, while others are of later date, and one at least is proved by the Aum monogram on it to belong to about the third or fourth century A.D. I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Bell for permission to include descriptions of these coins with the rest.
THE PURANAS, OR DHARANAS, OR SĀLĀKAS
Many of these coins have been discovered in India, and Sir Alexander Cunningham estimated that he had seen between four thousand and five thousand specimens.3 They have been figured and described on several occasions, but I think that no account has been given of any from Ceylon, except nine much worn examples found by Mr. Bell among the débris at an early monastic site in Anuradhapura, which was surrounded by a Buddhist Railing.' These were described and figured by him in 1892.4
All the Purānas found in the island have been imported from India. The punch-marks on them, each impressed by a separate small punch, and almost all near the sides of the coins, are, with perhaps two or three exceptions, identical with those on Indian coins; and silver and copper, the materials of which they seem to be composed, are not products of Ceylon.
1 Ievers, Manual of the North-Central Province, p. 234.
2 Arch. Survey of Ceylon. Fourth Progress Report, p. 13.
3 Coins of Ancient India, p. 42.
Arch. Survey of Ceylon. Fourth Progress Report, pp. 4 and 12.
These coins are thus a proof of the early trade with India. The majority are so much worn that any symbols that may have been impressed on them have almost disappeared.
The common designs that can be recognised on the obverse of this money are the rayed sun-symbol, a circle with six emblems round it, the dog, the elephant, the bull, fishes (some of them in tanks), the turtle, forms of trees, and a three-arched structure, surmounted in one case by a crescent. All the mammals face towards the right. The usual emblems that are absent from the coins which I have seen are the human figure, the bow and arrow, the caduceus, the Swastika, and birds.
On the reverse side some coins have several symbols which are generally nearly worn away, but as a rule there are few marks on that face, among which are the rayed sun, the tree, and the structure with three arches. In one case a person has engraved a design which perhaps was intended for the early cup-shaped letter m, with a cross-bar in the middle, as it occurs in local inscriptions of earlier date than 100 B.C. Another has a punched symbol which resembles an early letter, but may be part of an animal design.
The shapes vary as in India, about one-third of the coins being round in outline, while the others are more or less rectangular, and occasionally have one corner or two adjoining ones cut away. According to Indian authorities this indicates that when first cut off the strip of beaten silver hardened by an alloy of copper, from which it was taken, the coin was found to be too heavy and was therefore reduced in weight in this manner. It is obvious that it might still vary from the correct weight to the extent of some grains.
The full weight of such coins as these has been shown by Sir A. Cunningham to be about 57.6 grains.1 If this was the original weight of those found at Mulleittivu all must have been subjected to wear for an extended period, since the average of thirty-three is only 33.8 grains, and runs from 28 to 1 Is it more than a coincidence that an early silver coin found in Crete weighs 564 grains?
2 The rest, which were extremely worn and unfortunately were unweighed, were acquired' by an inquisitive servant.