Amateur freedivers discover golden treasure from the fall of the Roman Empire
Two amateur divers swimming along the Spanish coast have discovered a huge treasure trove of 1,500-year-old gold coins, one of the largest ever recorded from the Roman Empire.
The divers, brothers-in-law Luis Lens Pardo and César Gimeno Alcalá, discovered the gold hide out on holiday with their families in Xàbia, a Mediterranean coastal town and a tourist hotspot. The duo rented snorkeling gear so they could go snorkeling in a bid to pick up trash to beautify the area, but they found something far richer when Lens Pardo noticed the glow of a coin at the end of Portitxol bay on August 23. El País reported.
When he went to investigate, he found the room “was in a little hole, like a bottleneck,” Lens Pardo told El País in Spanish. After cleaning the room, Lens Pardo saw that it had “an ancient image, like a Greek or Roman face”. Intrigued, Lens Pardo and Gimeno Alcalá returned, diving into the hole with a Swiss army knife and using his corkscrew to unearth a total of eight coins.
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Stunned by the discovery, Lens Pardo and Gimeno Alcalá reported it to the authorities the next day. “We took the eight pieces we found and put them in a glass jar with seawater,” Lens Pardo said. Soon a team of archaeologists from the University of Alicante, the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum Soler Blasco and the Special Underwater Brigade of the Spanish Civil Guard, in collaboration with the Town Hall of Xàbia, gathered to excavate and examine the treasure.
With the help of archaeologists, they discovered that the hole contained a large pile of at least 53 gold coins dating from between AD 364 and AD 408, when the Western Roman Empire was in decline. Each coin weighs approximately 0.1 ounce (4.5 grams).
The coins were so well preserved that archaeologists could easily read their inscriptions and identify the Roman Emperors depicted on them, including: Valentinian I (three coins), Valentinian II (seven coins), Theodosius I (15 coins), Arcadius (17 coins) , Honorius (10 pieces) and an unidentified piece, according to a statement from the University of Alicante. The treasure also included three nails, probably in the copper, and deterioration lead remains of what might have been a marine chest that contained the riches.
The treasure is one of the largest known collections of Roman gold coins in Europe, Jaime Molina Vidal, professor of ancient history at the University of Alicante (UA), researcher at the University Institute of Archeology and AU historical heritage and team leader who helped recover the buried treasure, said in the statement. The coins are also a treasure trove of information and could shed light on the final phase of the Western Roman Empire before its fall, Molina Vidal said. (In 395 AD, the Roman Empire split into two parts: the Western Roman Empire, with Rome as its capital, and the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine, with Constantinople (now Istanbul ) for capital, Previously reported live science.)
Perhaps these pieces were deliberately hidden during the fierce power struggles that followed during the home stretch of the Western Roman Empire. Meanwhile, the barbarians – non-Roman tribes such as the Germanic Suevi and Vandals and the Iranian Alans – came to Hispania, the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula, and seized power from the Romans around 409, the statement said.
“Gold coin games are not common,” Molina Vidal told El País, adding that Portitxol Bay is where ships leaving from the Iberian provinces of Rome stopped before heading for the Balearic Islands, which today include Mallorca and Ibiza, then head to Rome. Since archaeologists have found no evidence of a sunken ship nearby, it is possible that someone intentionally buried the treasure there, possibly to hide it from barbarians, possibly Alans, he said. he declares.
“The discovery speaks to us of a context of fear, of a world that is ending – that of the Roman Empire,” said Molina Vidal.
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Until now, a study of the coins suggests that the gold treasure belonged to a wealthy landowner, for in the 4th and 5th centuries “the cities were in decline and power was in decline. moved to the great Roman villas, in the countryside, “Molina Vidal told El País.
“Trade has been eradicated and the sources of wealth become agriculture and animal husbandry,” he said. As the barbarians advanced, one of the landowners may have collected the gold coins – which did not circulate like regular money, but were collected by families to serve as signs of wealth – and had them buried in a chest in the bay. “And then he had to die because he didn’t come back to get them back,” Molina Vidal said.
Once the pieces have been fully studied, they will be exhibited at the Blasco de Xàbia Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum. Meanwhile, the Valencian government has allocated $ 20,800 (17,800 euros) for underwater archaeological excavations in the area, in case other treasures are buried in the surrounding area. Previously, Portitxol Bay yielded other finds, including anchors, amphorae (ceramic vessels), ceramic and metal remains, and artefacts associated with ancient shipping.
Originally posted on Live Science.