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Ancient Roman coins (representational image only)

Farmer discovers huge hoard of more than 4,000 ancient Roman coins in Switzerland

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A Swiss farmer made an incredible find in his cherry orchard when he spotted something shimmering in a molehill and subsequently discovered a trove of 4,166 bronze and silver Roman coins.  The hoard has been described as one of the biggest treasures ever found in Switzerland.

The Agence France Press reports that the finding occurred in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau in Switzerland, a short distance away from an ancient Roman settlement in the nearby town of Frick. The Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer contacted the regional archaeological service, which took several months to carefully excavate all the coins, some of which were buried in small leather pouches.

The finding was made in the picturesque region of Aargau, Switzerland (pictured). ( public domain )

In total, the trove weighs an incredible 15kg (33lb) and consists of ancient Roman coins stretching from the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270 – 275 AD), known for restoring the Empire’s eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire, to the reign of Maximian (286 – 305 AD), who carried out campaigns to relieve the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion.  The most recent coin discovered in the hoard dates to 294 AD.

"As an archaeologist one rarely experiences something like this more than once in your career," Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter told  Spiegel Online .

The coins are in excellent condition with the prints still legible, leading experts to suspect that the coins were taken out of circulation shortly after they were minted, but retained for the value of the bronze and silver.

Ancient Roman coins

Ancient Roman coins ( public domain )

The region in which the coins were found has a long history, and is believed to have been the location of a large Roman settlement between the 1 st and 4 th century AD. Remains of a 2 nd century Roman estate have been found along the main road in the town of Frick, and a 4 th century fort was discovered below the church hill.  The Roman era name for Frick (Latin: Ferraricia) refers to a Roman iron ore mine in the area.

Frick, canton of Aargau, Switzerland

Frick, canton of Aargau, Switzerland ( public domain )

The farmer who discovered the treasure will receive a finder’s fee, but according to Swiss law, the coins will remain public property and are set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.

Featured image: Ancient Roman coins (representational image only). Credit: Roger Smith ( Flickr)

By: April Holloway

 
 

Comments

yes, one might suspect in their condition, they would have been buried with some coal, to absorb moisture, and certain chemicals and wrapping to eliminate oxygen, but why do that for coins anyway ? then wonder if there is lead alloyed with the more precious metals. ? that iis not mentioned.

Minediver208's picture

An amazing discovery!  In particular, I was intrigued by the photos of the coins showing very minimal oxidation of the Copper and Silver – both very reactive metals.  I wish the article detailed the setting in which the cache was found – it must have been an extremely restrictive environment with a low Oxygen content and unsubjected to water.  Otherwise, in conjunction with the coins being in contact with the leather pouch, the Copper coins would show a much thicker coating of the green Hydroxide crust, and the Silver coins would have developed a thick black Oxide crust.  I was also surprised by the lack of ion-replacement one would expect from Cu-Ag contact in an acidic environment – but perhaps the selected photos just didn’t include that evidence. 

 
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