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Friday 6 Mar 2009
Aksum, Ethiopia

Ancient coin purchase ...

All night I had been thinking about the coins I'd seen. "I'd be crazy NOT to buy one" I thought, so I was determined to check out the souvenir shops I'd visited the day before and grab one of them before my morning flight to Lalibela.

Unfortunately I had miscalculated the time of my flight and realised I had barely one hour free in the morning to get packed and out of the hotel after I awoke. I was seriously disheartened, but resigned to my fate: it was not to be.

Then, as I'm paying for my room in the lobby, out of the blue appears the second guy (let's call him "Tommy") I'd met who's grandfather had the silver coin! I was overjoyed! Apparently he found out where my hotel was from another bloke who was delivering some hand-carved necklaces to me that morning that I'd orded the day before! How feckin cool is that?!!?

Replica of the silver...
Replica of the silver...

As promised he was toting the infamous SILVER coin (which I had yet to see btw.. and which I had yet to know the price too!) in some tissue paper and we ran out to the backyard of the hotel to find a suitable table for the "unveiling". And I wasn't disappointed! Presented to me was the most exquisite coin I'd seen so far ... easily in far better condition than the bronze coin I'd planned on buying. It was a 3AD coin depicting King Endybis and had both Amharaic and Greek lettering on it (so that it could be used by Greek merchants). It was shiny from centuries of use as well! I couldn't get over the quality condition of the coin and it even outshone some of the identical ones I'd seen in the museum the day before! The photo on the left is from the British Museum, but my coin is of the same calibre and also features the important half-moon shape above the king's head which is a significant symbol of power in Aksum.

Tommy even had a second silver coin which was minted soon after Christianity came to Aksum. It featured a king holding a small chalice and cross. I would have LOVED to have bought the two coins!

And the price? 900 birr too! Score! I quickly ran up to my room to see how much money I had left (remember I was running out of birr) ... 300 birr left! "Shit!", I couldn't really afford to throw that away as I needed to pay for hotels in Lalibela too ... The guy suggested I try out the bank, so we (literally) sprinted to the bank with my credit card. I really wanted this coin Laughing

Getting to the bank .. they said they couldn't take money out on my credit card. "Sheize!" I exclaimed. So basically I had only 300 birr left to my name in this country!

I'm not sure if Tommy fully appreciated the situation as on the run back to the hotel he must have thought I didn't like the price and kept on lowering it (he didn't understand me when I said I didn't have the cash!!). By the time we got back to the hotel he had lowered the price to 700 birr!! Then I hit upon an idea .. I had a few US dollars and some euros lying around, would he accept those? "Sure!". So I got the rest of my non-Ethiopian cash together: 20 euro, 30 us dollars and threw in 100 birr which brought the total to around 700 birr and finally got my coin!! ... but I was now screwed for cash for the rest of the trip.. I was going to have to be REALLY careful!

Onward to Lalibela ...

1 Comment for this Travel blog entry

Solomon Says:

12 June 2009

Poor guy who didn't know how much these coins were worth!!

I bless the rains down in Africa

Travel blog by peterforan

Day 3  ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

Day 3 ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro


With Toto's defining tune ringing in my head, I don khaki pants and venture full-throttle into Africa! Elephants, lions, huge mountains, men with spears intent on stabbing me (probably) and the "Cradle of Humanity" (tm)... 4 weeks ain't gonna be enough!

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Photo Album

  • Replica of...

    Aksum

    Ethiopia

    Replica of the silver coin I bought
  • The Rome Stele

    Aksum

    Ethiopia

    The Rome Stele
  • Rome Stele...

    Aksum

    Ethiopia

    Rome Stele with St Mary of Zion church in background
  • More stele

    Aksum

    Ethiopia

    More stele