NUMISMATICS AS A SOURCE OF AFRICAN HISTORY
Numismatics is the study of coins. This study helps us to know where the coins were minted and found.
- Advanced economy: Numismatics studies has proved that Africans had an advanced economy in minting of coins. Numismatics throws light on trade contacts between people. For an example the discovery of 240 coins at Kilwa on the East African Coast show that from the 13th century AD, the sultans of Kilwa had their own mint.
- Accurate date: Numismatic gives accurate dates, names, places and events. For example the king list of Kilwa came to light when the 240 coins were discovered. It showed the sultans of the Swahili Coast.
- Reliable: Discovered coins can be seen, felt or touched, makes history live, or more interesting or reliable.
- High level of civilization: Numismatics shows the level of civilization to the people using coins. For instance, by the 13th century AD, the Sultans of the East African Coast had their own mint of coins for producing their coins for trade and other purposes. Also, gold weights represented the means of determining quantities of gold in Akan society where gold dust was the normal currency. The value of gold to be used in a money transaction was assessed by weights.
- Political dominance: Numismatics shows the political dominance in societies using coins. During the colonial rule, Ghana’s currency had the figure and name of the British crown.
- Preservation for longer periods: Numismatics unlike the other artifacts, a coin can be preserved for a relatively longer period.
- Trade links: Through the activities of numismatics, it is known that as far back as the 9th and 10th centuries AD, the people of East Africa and China had established trading links.
DEMERITS OF NUMISMATICS
- Gives limited information: Numismatics gives limited information in the story it tells. It may only identify a ruling class in the society engaged in trading activity who used the coin. This makes numismatics handicapped in tracing the other aspects of cultural lives of the user societies.
- Rely on other sources: Without the consultation of other sources like archeology and oral tradition, numismatics may somehow be impotent in revealing the entire cultural history of a society. This is also because not all pre-historic societies minted and used coins.