It’s not terribly uncommon for someone caught in the commission of one crime to stumble into committing another offense. In India, a group of men who were illegally mining riverbed sand happened to find a trove of antique silver coins—and in the process ended up becoming unwitting thieves in the eyes of the law.
The group consisted of seven men, and each took a share of 206 silver coins (some hundreds of years old) that were found along the bed of the Palar River. The coins were divided between the men, but perhaps not evenly enough. Police were tipped off to the discovery—which is supposed to be reported to the authorities so it can be officially claimed by the finder—when one of the finders decided that he had been shortchanged his fair share of the loot.
India has a long and rich history of minting coins both before and after interaction with European colonists. Numismatic historians believe that India independently developed early forms of coins in antiquity.
According to the Times of India, the coins were divided up among the men as follows: “29 coins from Perumal, 16 coins from Venkatesan, 63 coins from Anandan, 14 coins from Murthy, 35 coins from Babu, 26 coins from Karthick and 23 from Rajesh.”
Besides the disgruntled group member who contacted the police, local villagers also relayed the story of the discovery to reporters from the Times of India.
At least some of the coins bear Persian inscriptions (like the one pictured, above), likely pointing to their time of origin as the Mughal Empire of the 17th or 18th centuries. This dynasty of rulers controlled large swaths of India’s territory at different points in time.
Before they can be declared treasure and acquired by the state, the coins still need to be evaluated by the curator of a government museum in Vellore, a district located in southern India where the discovery was made.
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