Authorities in Andhra Pradesh have discovered four French gold coins dating back to Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and the last monarch of France, in a temple.
The coins, each weighing 1.5 grams, were found during digging at the Ksheera Ramalingeswara Swamy temple at Palakole town in West Godavari in coastal Andhra.
Department of archaeology and museums assistant director Bangaiah said over phone that the coins dating back to the 18th century AD have images of Napoleon III.
"This is the first time that French coins have been found in Andhra Pradesh," said Bangaiah. He pointed out that Palakole was a trading centre on the eastern coast attracting the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese and the British traders.
The official said the coins were found during the excavation work to rebuild the 'dhwajastambham' at the 10th century temple. The dhwajastambham or flag post of the deity had collapsed during the recent rains and the temple authorities had taken up the excavation to reinstall it.
"As per custom, the coins and other valuables of the temple are kept in a pit before erecting the dhwajastambham," said Bangaiah.
The temple authorities gave one of the four coins to the department of archaeology and museums for displaying at the government museum in Kakinada in East Godavari district. The remaining three coins were kept in the excavated pit before starting work on rebuilding the dhwajastambham.
Three copper coins of British India were also discovered during the excavation. While two coins were of one paisa each, the third was of Re1 denomination. The coins, from 1905, carried the image of Queen Victoria.