Discovery of an extraordinary set of Roman coins

Who hasn’t dreamed of diving into the turquoise sea and seeing the reflection of a treasure on the bottom of the water? That’s exactly what happened to two amateur divers swimming in Portitxol Bay off the Spanish coast on August 23, 2021. Brothers-in-law Luis Lance Pardo and César Gimeno Alcala, who were on vacation that day, rented snorkeling equipment for the purpose of clearing the ocean floor of some of their garbage that day. But over the course of his career, Luis Lens Pardo’s eyes were attracted by a tiny golden glow, he told the daily. Country.

He notes that it is about the part that “In a Little Hole, Like a Hitch”He explained to the newspaper. After cleaning him, two men saw that he had been killed. “of an ancient image, such as a Greek or Roman face”. So they decide to return to the site of their discovery at the bottom of the water, this time equipping themselves with a small corkscrew. In total, they manage to remove eight pieces from the cavity.

Luis Lens Pardo and Cesar Gimeno Alcala place them in a jar filled with sea water and inform the authorities the next day. A team of archaeologists from the University of Alicante and the Solar Blasco Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum then meets to examine the objects. The overview is quick: these are Roman coins. With the help of the Special Underwater Brigade of the Spanish Civil Guard and the City Council of Zubia, it has been decided that a new dive should be conducted to better locate the caches discovered for the holidays.

Gold coins less than 53 are not in perfect condition

This time, expert divers brought to the surface at least 53 gold pieces from AD 364 to 408, a time that coincides with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. All are so well preserved that it is easy to identify the various Roman emperors represented. Among them are Valentinian I, Valentinian II, Theodosius I, Arcadius and Honorius, a press release from the University of Alicante tells us. The treasure also includes three nails, possibly copper, and the ruined lead remains of what may have been a chest that contained the money.

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search site. credit: University of Alicante

The discovery is one of the largest known collections of Roman gold coins in Europe, said Jaime Molina Vidal, professor of ancient history at the University of Alicante and head of the team, which helped assess and recover treasures buried under the Mediterranean Sea. helped.

hide in a hurry

In addition to its material value, the plunder is also exceptional for what it tells of the turbulent period of history in which it is written, the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In 395 AD, the Roman Empire was divided into two parts: the Western Roman Empire, with Rome as its capital, and the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine), centralized in Constantinople. In the process, the barbarians – the name given by the Romans to various tribes in Europe that do not belong to the empire – take the opportunity to invade the politically vulnerable western regions. This is the case for Hispania, the name of the Iberian Peninsula, which was occupied by Suevi, Vandal and Iranian Alans from 409.

Since archaeologists have found no evidence of the existence of a sunken ship near the cavity in which the fragments were kept, it is possible that someone may have deliberately buried the treasure there, “Maybe to hide it from barbarians, maybe Alan”, specifies Jaime Molina Vidal. It may have belonged to a wealthy landowner, power transferred at that time from the towns to the countryside, where large Roman villas were located. “Discovery tells us about the context of fear, a world that is coming to an end – that of the Roman Empire”The archaeologist concluded.

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