Once again, Spain can boast another ancient discovery of treasure off of its coast.
It's not especially surprising when troves of sunken treasure are found in the waters near Spain considering it was the world's foremost accumulator of gold and silver bullion during the Age of Mercantilism between the 16th and 18th centuries.
However, this most recent discovery dates to the period of Ancient Rome over 2,000 years ago!
The Costa Brava region of Spain's coast with the Balearic and Mediterranean Seas has long been a hot-spot for such findings. It has been excavated for more than a century, yet it continues to yield new treasures.
The site where the cache of silver denarii coins was found lies near Catalonia and was known as Empuries. Its founding dates all the way back to 575 BCE, more than 2,500 years ago, but it has been little more than ruins since the fall of the Roman Empire.
A team of 30 archaeology and history students carried out the excavation that led to this discovery. In addition to the vase holding the silver coins, they also uncovered amphorae, which are jars that were used to store and serve wine. It was somewhat startling that such a significant discovery was made because this site not only had a long history of digging and study by researchers, but the house that the students focused on has previously been excavated. The difference was that this time they concentrated their digging on the cellar o the house.
Contained within an elaborate ceramic vase were no less than 200 silver denarii (pictured, above). The denarius was the standard silver coin of the Roman Empire. Its larger denomination counterpart was the gold aureus, equivalent in value to 25 denarii. The vase and coins are believed to date to the 1st century BCE, as well.
The average Roman soldier's pay was estimated to be just one denarius per day, making this hoard a considerable amount of money at the time. That left the student archaeologists scratching their heads as to why such a haul of money would be abandoned. They theorized that a house fire may have forced the owner to leave it behind.
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Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.