Up To 50,000 Roman Coins Discovered Off Coast Of Sardinia
A keen recreational scuba diver discovered a significant collection of large bronze coins from the era of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. This discovery has led to hopes of finding the shipwreck they originated from.
This diver, whose name hasn’t been disclosed, spotted the coins in a shallow, sandy part of the sea near the coast of Arzachena in the northeastern area of Sardinia, as reported by the Italian Ministry of Culture.
Following this report, a major underwater search was initiated the next day. This search involved the Ministry’s Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts & Landscape (SABAP) underwater archaeology unit, Sardinia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Unit, and several teams from the carabinieri and fire brigade’s diving squads. Additionally, state and financial police and port authorities participated in the investigation.
Dive teams discovered two groups of coins in a vast sandy area, which they believe could have helped preserve any remains of a shipwreck from as long as 1,700 years ago.
Based solely on their weight, it’s estimated that the collection holds between 30,000 and 50,000 Roman coins. This number significantly surpasses the nearly 23,000 coins from the same era unearthed near Seaton Down in the UK a decade ago by someone using a metal detector, as highlighted by the ministry. The coins’ state of preservation is described as both “exceptional and rare,” with only four of them being damaged but still readable. In addition to the coins, a substantial number of amphoras from Africa and a lesser amount from Asia were found.
These coins, known as follis, have been dated to the period between 324 AD, the year of Roman Emperor Licinius’s death, and 340 AD. This timeframe encompasses the reigns of both Constantine the Great and his son, Constantine II. During their reigns, there was an attempt to introduce larger bronze coins called centenionales, but none were found in this hoard, according to the ministry’s findings. The follis that were examined originated from nearly all the active mints of the Roman Empire during that era, except for those in Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage.
The specific date of the coin discovery and the total number of coins recovered have not been precisely disclosed. However, restoration and conservation efforts are currently underway.
The treasure found in the waters of Arzachena represents one of the most important discoveries of numismatic finds in recent years,” said SABAP director-general Luigi La Rocca.
He added that the discovery “highlights once again the richness and importance of the archaeological heritage that the depths of our seas, crossed by men and goods since the most ancient times, still guard and conserve.”
Highlighting the significance and vulnerability of the find, La Rocca remarked that it constitutes “an extraordinary but also very fragile heritage, always at risk from both natural and human factors.” He added that the ministry’s archaeological teams would use “exceptional recovery and preservation methods and techniques” to safeguard and examine the site and its artifacts.
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