Imitation of Roman Imperial AE4, struck in Sri Lanka, 400\'s AD, cross in wreath

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Bust right, stylized imitative legends around / Cross within a stylized wreath (?). 12mm, 1.20 grams. Mitchiner ACW #5165ff (this type not listed).

This type imitates the "cross" AE4's of Roman Emperors Arcadius and Honorius. Clear and nice coins like this one are difficult to find. Rare type.

Late Roman bronze coins and their local Sri-Lankan imitations, are found in Sri Lanka. It seems likely that enterprising Roman traders brought demonetized and worn small Roman coins from the Roman Empire (where they had almost no value) and brought them all the way to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka the native coinage was crude, scarce and probably carried a much higher intrinsic value than in Rome or India. It is not inconceivable that all the Roman coins encountered in Sri Lanka come from only a few (if not one) such shipment of obsolete Roman coinage. If this is true, such trades might have taken place some times in the early 5th century CE. When more coins were needed (but not available), locally made imitations of these Roman coins were minted. The Sri Lankans obviously had no experience in minting coins - these are extremely crude and poorly made, never found well-struck and in high quality. They fascinating and unusual, showing stylized and misunderstood Roman designs. They probably remained in circulation for hundreds of years, until ca.8th century CE. The coin offered here comes from a group of coins sold by CNG - these coins were probably freshly minted, as numerous coins in this group were struck with the same sets of dies, and it is likely this piece dates to the 5th century CE.