Status: research in progress
Debate on Zeno over whether 睘 on the coin is shorthand for 圜 or if it is a unit of measure. No contemporary written record of either usage. Points:
– 睘 would have to be approximately the same as a 两
– Shang Huang instituted reforms for the state of Qin c. 350BC. He was a Legalist and many of his policies were reaffirmed or extended by the Qin Emperor. Not sure if he instituted standard weights and measures.
– Qin military expansion started around 318 BC. This is well recorded so we can compare this with find locations for the coin.
– Burning of the books by the Qin emperor was 213-210 BC, about a decade after the standard weights and measures decree in 221 BC. It’s still possible the Qin ministers pursued a policy of eradication of any reference to non-standard weights and measures. Evidence about this question would be helpful in assessing the likelihood of the lack of surviving reference to 睘 as a unit of weight.
– Some further thoughts: Hartill refers to finds of 半两 coins in some pretty early dated tombs. If these coins were made before Qin started to absorb other states, and we can confirm Shang Huang reforms included standardization of weights and measures, then we can be fairly sure 睘 cannot be a Qin unit, because they already used 两 for that weight. If we can show 半睘 coins were also made before 318 BC then they must be made specifically for trade; this should have some implication for where the coins ought to be found, and we can examine find locations to compare.
– So far, case for 睘 as unit of weight does not seem very strong.
To do: Learn about Shang Huang’s reforms. Determine earliest dated finds of both types of coins in question. Determine find locations of both types of coins. Then reevaluate the possible history, given additional information.