Brothel token discovered in Britain
In what could be the earliest evidence of British porn, an amateur archaeologist has discovered a coin that depicts a man and a woman having sex. Experts believe it was a token for use in Roman brothels.
"The day I made the find it was a very low, early tide and raining heavily. At first I thought it was a Roman coin, because of the thickness and diameter," Regis Cursan, 37, who found the coin along the River Thames near the Putney Bridge in West London, told the Daily Mail newspaper.
"When I rubbed the sand off the artefact, the first thing I saw was the number on one side and what I thought was a goddess on the other. Little did I know at the time it was actually a rare Roman brothel token. To find something like that is a truly exciting find."
On one side is the Roman numeral XIIII, which experts believe means the coin costs 14 Roman coins, called asses. That's about the equivalent of one day's pay for a labourer in the first century AD.
Historians speculate that a person could take the token to a brothel and exchange it for the act depicted on the other side of the coin — in this case, sexual intercourse.
Similar coins have been found elsewhere in the former Roman Empire, but this is the first one found in Britain.
"This is the perfect archaeological object. It's sexy and provocative in the best sense of the word. The lot of a Roman sex slave was not a happy one and objects like this can help the Museum of London provoke debates about issues that are relevant to the modern city and its visitors. Museums should engage with these more grown-up and sometimes less comfortable topics," McDonald added in a museum press release.
Jonathan Jones, a Guardian art blogger, said the coin has artistic as well as historical value.
"Yet this is not just a hint of life in Roman Britain. It is also a glimpse of a hidden art history. These Roman tokens, with their detailed depictions of sex acts, had a dramatic influence on the birth of modern pornography," he wrote.