Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Badger unearths Roman coins in Spain

EDITOR - While this is not exactly a "military" topic, money does make the world go around and certainly funds the armed forces. In this case the coins came from the Eastern Empire.

A treasure trove of some 200 Roman-era coins, dating from between the third and fifth century AD, was discovered in northwestern Spain thanks to the apparent efforts of a hungry badger hunting for food, archaeologists have said.

Described as "an exceptional find", the coins were discovered in April 2021 in La Cuesta cave in Bercio in the Asturias region, with details outlined in the Journal of Prehistory and Archaeology published last month by Madrid's Autonomous University.

The coins were likely dug up by a badger searching for food during the rare snowstorm which paralyzed Spain in January 2021 — a blizzard officials called "the most intense storm in the last 50 years."

The coins were probably hidden by people fleeing barbarians, archaeologists say. Credit: Alfonso Fanjul Peraza

Most of these late Roman era coins "originate from the north and eastern Mediterranean" from Antioch, Constantinople, Thessaloniki which later passed through Rome and Arles and Lyon in southern France, although at least one coin came from London, they wrote. 

The researchers told El Pais the one minted in London was one of the most well preserved coins and is "bronze, weighing between eight and 10 grams, with an approximate 4% silver."

Reverse of the coin minted in London. 
/ Credit: Journal of Prehistory and Archaeology

The researchers said the coins had likely been moved there in the "context of political instability" linked in particular to the invasion of the Suebians, a Germanic people, who pushed into the northwestern part of the Iberian peninsula in the 5th century.

Most of the coins are made of copper and bronze and the largest, weighing more than eight grams. 

The Romans conquered the Iberian peninsula in 218BC, ruling until they were ousted by the Visigoths in the early fifth century. Researchers have speculated that the latest trove of coins were likely part of a larger haul that was hastily hidden in hopes of keeping them safe amid political and social instability.

In the late Roman period, coins were minted in a number of cities, mainly because of the danger and cost of moving large quantities of precious metal from place to place. This system was inherited by Byzantium, and in the 6th century there were six mints in the Eastern Empire (Constantinople, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch [Theoupolis], Alexandria and Thessalonica) and three in the Western provinces that Justinian had reconquered from the Vandals and the Ostrogoths (Carthage, Rome and Ravenna).

Gold coins were minted mainly in the capital and consequently have the mint mark CON (for Constantinople), with OB added on the solidi to show that they were minted of pure gold.

(thelocal.es)   (abc.net.au)   (theguardian.com)