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London museum coin may be Roman "brothel token"

LONDON - A bronze coin found by a man who was looking in the mud by the river Thames may have discovered the first Roman "brothel token" in London.

The nickel-sized artifact is currently on display at The Museum of London. On one side it shows a lady lying on a couch with a man positioned behind her.

The coin, called spintria, was likely used 2,000 years ago in Roman London.

Senior curator Caroline McDonald said in a press release that there is much debate about the precise use of these Roman tokens they are widely thought to be coins that were exchanged for sex. The reverse numeral on the front of the object, XIIII, may indicate the price.

"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," McDonald said in a press release.

"Museums should engage with these more grown-up and sometimes less comfortable topics," she added.

Others believe the token may have been used for gambling.

McDonald believed it may be the only brothel coin ever found in the whole of Britain.

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