Century 3rd BC to 1st AD - Lanka

Elephant and Svastika - Uncleaned

Uncleaned Elephant and Svastika coins recently been found at Akurugoda near Tissmaharama in south east Lanka. Hardly any features can be identified. Maybe guess at faint outline of some expected symbols It is the classic and largest of the ancient coins which is uniquely from Lanka.

TypeStruck ?
Diameter>30.7 mm
Thickness>3.2 mm
Weight>11.0 gms
es-unclean_obverse es-unclean_reverse

Obverse: Faint trace of body of Elephant to lower right
Reverse: Faint trace of Svastika at upper center.
TypeStruck ?
Diameter31.3 mm
Thickness3.1 mm
Weight15.46 gms
es-clean_obverse es-clean_reverse
Obverse: Faint trace of Elephant to lower left
Reverse: Faint trace of rail of Svastika at upper right.

Seven these coins (H.1 to H.7) are cataloged and described in 1999 by Osmund Bopearachchi and Rajah Wickramasinhe in the book Ruhuna. An Ancient Civilization Re-visited . All of these coins where thick, porous and assumed to be cast.

I heard some questions about authenticity among few collectors in Colombo. They appeared to look different from the thin and finely Struck coins of same type which were mainly found at the Abhayagiri Dagoba in Anuradhapura.

When I visited Ruhuna in late 2001 and met Mr Ratnayaka, the collector who had supplied all of these coins. I was informed that he had put all of them in the fire to burn out the crust around the coin. Most wish to see the coin before they sell it, since they can command a much higher price for the few which turn out better after cleaning. Since fire was clearly a very primitive way to clean coins I requested him to keep coins uncleaned except for washing in water.

On my next visit in 2003 May, Ratnayaka as requested had kept me these two featureless slugs covered with corrosion. The size indicated they were probably Elephant & Svastika coins. I almost didn't accept them not wanting to waste my time trying to clean them. He insisted I take them, and since after all he had saved them for me for over a year I felt obliged to do so. He agreed to replace if nothing turned up under the corrosion. According to Ratnayaka thicker the slug, finer is the detail on the surface of coin.

The upper coin displayed above is chipped on the side and showed a chisel mark, both probably from when a stack of coins were separated. Please read about the partial cleaning of this coin with a before and after comparison. I regret that I forgot to weigh this coin before cleaning.

I will save the lower E&S coin uncleaned. I suspect that it is not as good as the coin I did clean. I also need to master the subtle tricks in cleaning ancient coins. I also hope I will be able to transfer some useful knowledge back to the source in Lanka to save some of the ancient coins from being damaged by fire.

The coins were scanned at 300 dpi and displayed at 250 dpi. It was obtained in 2003 May in this uncleaned condition from Ratnayaka, a collector in Kataragama, Lanka.