Villagers in Linqing (临清), Shandong Province (山动省) dig for old coins in China’s ancient Grand Canal (大运河) when the water level is low, according to an article published July 2, 2015 by linqing zaixian (临清在线).
The Grand Canal is the longest canal in the world. Construction began in the 5th century BC. The canal runs from Beijing (北京) to Hangzhou (杭州) and links the Yellow River (Huang He 黄河) and the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang 长江).
During the Ming (明朝 1368-1644) and Qing (清朝 1644-1912) dynasties, Linqing was an important trading center for textiles and grains. It was also famous for its brickyards which produced bricks that were used to build palaces and tombs in the capital.
Linqing is a place having large and bustling docks with “thirty-two ‘Flower and Willow’ lanes and seventy-two ‘Wind and String’ houses”.
The months of June and July are traditionally the dry period along the Wei River. Whenever the water level is low, the villagers take the opportunity to dig for ancient coins on the river bottom.
At the left, villagers can be seen digging for the buried “treasure”. The villager in the red shirt can even be spotted in the image of the bridge above.
The coins recovered are usually from the Ming or Qing dynasties but much older coins are also found.
Shown at the left are the Qing dynasty coins a villager found after only a few minutes of digging.
Even though the coins have been buried for hundreds of years and show surface corrosion, the coin inscriptions can still be easily read.
When conditions permitted, the boats relied on wind power to move along the canal.
Otherwise, the boats were pulled on ropes by teams of men known as “boat trackers” (纤夫), as can be seen in this Qing dynasty photograph.
Since there usually was no tow-path on the shore, trackers frequently waded through chest deep water in the canal.
The boats and barges had flat bottoms. In bad weather conditions, winds could cause them to overturn and lose their cargoes.
A more detailed view of some of the coins is shown here.
As can be seen, the coins are very well preserved despite having been buried for more than 1,300 years.
Large quantities of ancient coins from other dynasties have also been recovered.
These coins are on display at the Zhongce Accounting Museum (中策财会博物馆) in Hangzhou.
Like the Great Wall (万里长城), the Grand Canal was one of the monumental engineering projects of ancient China, and to this day continues to reveal its history through discoveries of long buried treasures.