Imagine going for a nice, peaceful walk with your metal detector along the river Thames in London... and finding a Roman coin peeking out from beneath the mud. That's what happened to Regis Cursan, a 37 year old pastry chef. But the coin that he found near the Putney Bridge in West London is no ordinary Roman coin! It's a "sex coin" depicting two people having sexual intercourse. Historians think that such coins, which have turned up in various places that used to be part of the Roman empire, were used as brothel tokens.
The coin that Cursan found was the first Roman sex coin to be discovered in Great Britain. London, then knows as Londinium, was conquered by the Roman Empire. The coin had been protected from corrosion by mud, and some say that it probably belonged to a soldier stationed there. It's also said that these Roman brothel tokens were handed in to prostitutes (who were slaves) in exchange for the exact sexual position shown on the coin.
The sex coin from the Thames is smaller than a British ten pence coin, but a little thicker. It shows two people involved in a sex act. One person is lying on their abdomen, with the other on top of that person. They are stretched out in a horizontal position. It is quite hard to tell whether the person on top is a man, though, because something that looks awfully like a woman's breasts are on there. Unless the people shown are lesbians, we'd assume the top one is a male, though.
Cursan, the proud finder of the coin, said: "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. When I rubbed the sand off the artifact 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."