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  • Cashew farmer chances on rare find: 832 copper coins from Portuguese era in Goa 11/11/2023

    Nov 11th, 2023

    A fortnight ago, Vishnu Shridhar Joshi, a farmer in North Goa’s Nanoda Bamber village, was clearing weeds at his cashew plantation when he noticed a pot buried in the soil. After a little digging, Joshi found a vessel that contained coins from a bygone era. Unbeknownst to Joshi, he had stumbled on a “treasure” from centuries ago — 832 copper coins, believed to have been minted in Goa around the 16th or 17th Century when it was under Portuguese rule. The rare discovery is now part of a study that will be undertaken by the state’s department of archaeology, which could offer insights into trade relations, commerce and the economic history of Goa during the early years of Portuguese rule. “We brought the vessel home and inside were a large number of coins with symbols and inscriptions. I was not sure what to do. I contacted the village panch and informed government officials. It appears that someone had buried this treasure here,” Joshi said. On Wednesday, state Minister of Archaeology Subhash Phal Dessai and a team of officials from the department visited the village and took custody of the coins. Officials said the “buried treasure” could offer insights into Goa’s numismatic history. “Prima facie, from the alphabets and symbols, it appears that the coins were issued in the 16th-17th Century during early years of Portuguese rule. On some coins, one side has a cross and an alphabet, which could be interpreted as the initials of a king, under whose kingdom the coins may have been circulated,” said Dr Nilesh Fal Dessai, director, department of archaeology. Experts will undertake a study to ascertain when the coins were minted and circulated, and to understand mercantile trade relations at the time.“There were no banks at the time. There is not much documentation about the kind of currencies that were in circulation then. Rulers often issued coins bearing initials of their names and inscriptions of religious symbols. Though it appears the coins are made of copper, we have to clean them and identify the metal composition using conventional techniques,” Dessai said. “It could be that these coins were part of someone’s personal collection or may have been buried for the purpose of hoarding for commerce. After a study, we will be able to conclusively establish their origin.” An official said, “During Old Conquests, Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete talukas in Goa were under Portuguese rule. This discovery of coins from Sattari taluka is significant since it offers evidence of trade and economic relations during that period.” Archaeology Minister Dessai told the media, “After a thorough examination, the coins would be placed in the state museum, specifying the description of the location and crediting the person who found it.”