Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC)
Length 1.8 cm, Width 1.4 cm
Excavated at Yinxu, Anyang, Henan Province, 1953
This bronze cowry, cast in imitation of the shape of a cowry shell,was excavated at Yinxu, verifying that the era of cast metal currency in China began as early as the Shang and Yin dynasties. Like other forms of currency, this bronze cowry shell had a monetary function.
It is the earliest example of cast metal currency not only in China, but the world. This work marks the beginning of cast bronze currency in China, paving the way for the development of cast metal currency.