How rare are Roman gold coins

Small coins with a big meaning

Status: 06/27/2016 7:57 p.m. | archive

Tiny and yet a sensation: the archaeologists in Kalkriese near Bramsche in the district of Osnabrück are convinced of this. They discovered eight Roman gold coins from the years between 2 BC and 5 AD on their excavation site. It was the biggest find since the iron helmet mask at the site of the Varus Battle near Osnabrück, said the archaeologists on Monday at the presentation of the coins.

Probably the "cash" of a Roman

"The coins were already very valuable in antiquity," says the scientific director Salvatore Ortisi from the University of Osnabrück. That is why such a find is so rare. These eight coins were worth so much at the time that an entire Roman family could live on them for about a year, according to Ortisi. The researchers therefore assume that the coins did not come from a small purse, but were the entire savings of a Roman. In addition, there are many indications that the coins were hidden there, said Ortisi. The gold coins were found in the remains of a pit. They could have belonged to an officer or a higher-ranking Roman soldier, says Ortisi.

Embossing shows military leaders

The coins were found during construction work in the museum park in Kalkriese. They were spread over about a square meter. The researchers assume, however, that they originally lay together. The coins all come from the same series: Gaius / Lucius, that's the name of the type. The head of Emperor Augustus can be seen on the front of the gold pieces. On the back are the imperial princes Gaius and Lucius, surrounded by shields and spears: "The military leaders of the young men in Rome," says Ortisi. The coins were probably minted in Lyon in what is now France. But although the coins still shine as if they had just been made, they have probably already been used a lot. "They are a bit worn. So they were already in circulation back then," says Ortisi.

Coins are not for sale

A total of seven gold coins had previously been found on the ancient battlefield. Two of them came from the Gaius / Lucius series. Finds of bronze or silver coins, however, are not so rare. The archaeologists have already excavated more than 1,500 pieces. The value of the coins that have now been found is around 20,000 to 25,000 euros, says Joseph Rottmann, managing director of the Varus Battle in the Osnabrück region. But: "The coins are of course not for sale."

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