600 Kilos of Roman Bronze Coins Found in Spain

April 30th, 2016 by

The legacy of the Roman Empire can still be found all across Europe. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Iberian Peninsula and everywhere in between, the remnants of the ancient world’s greatest empire reveal themselves in a variety of ways. In some places, it’s architecture; it others, it clearly comes through in the culture.

Most historic relics (like coins) that date to Ancient Rome seem to pop up in Britain. Yet, Spain can now boast its own significant discovery of ancient Roman coins.

Ancient Hoard in Seville

Earlier this week, construction workers making routine repairs on water pipes in the southern Spanish town, Tomares (about 10 km from Seville), stumbled upon a mind-blowing discovery. They unearthed 19 separate amphoras, or ancient Roman jars. This is an uncommon place for coins to be stored, according to researchers.

amphora of bronze coins

Source: AFP

In total, the cache is made up of tens of thousands of bronze ancient Roman coins. This quantity of coins adds up: it weighs a staggering 600 kilograms, more than half of a metric tonne! (No wonder it took 19 separate jars to store them.)

There are a whole host of reasons for historians and archaeologists to be excited about this find. The coins are in remarkable condition, well-preserved in the buried amphoras. Although the hoard is made up of bronze coins, there’s even reason to believe that some of them were originally bathed in silver.

According to the head of the Seville Archaeological Museum, Ana Navarro, the discovery is an extreme rarity because of its size and uniformity of the coins. The practically mint state condition of coins is a key, as well. The coins date to around the late Third and early Fourth centuries CE, making them well over 1,500 years old.

ancient roman coins

Image courtesy of Gogo Lobato/AFP

The images on the historic coins depict the Roman emperors Maximian and Constantine. A rough estimate from Ms. Navarro placed the value at the coins at “certainly millions of euros.” However, because the coins are so historic, she indicated that they are essentially invaluable. Navarro added, “It is a unique collection and there very few similar cases.”

Still a Mystery

One wonders, how did these thousands upon thousands of coins—certainly worth a great deal during their time—come to be buried and forgotten in the South of Spain? Experts have plausibly theorized that they were intended to pay the Roman imperial army stationed there, or perhaps to cover taxes to empire. These coins were clearly hidden for safekeeping, at any rate.

 

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