A farmer in Aargau, Switzerland was perusing his cherry orchard when he noticed a few green coins in a molehill. He notified authorities and, following an investigation by archaeologists in September, it was revealed that 4,166 Roman coins had been buried on his land.
Swissinfo.ch points out that the coin hoard can be traced to the year 294. The coins apparently show very little signs of wear, suggesting they were not widely circulated before being stored. Swiss numismatist Hugo Doppler said of the find, “The owner must have deliberately chosen these coins in order to hoard them. Their (5%) silver content would have guaranteed a certain value conservation in a time of economic uncertainty.”
The coins weighed in at a combined 15 kilograms, and some were stashed in leather bags or cloth.
— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) November 19, 2015
The obverses of the coins bore the likenesses of a variety of Roman Emperors, suggesting a fairly comprehensive collection of issues from that period. Included were coins bearing the images of Aurelian, Tacitus, Probus, Carus, Diocletian, and Maximian, whose reigns spanned the years 270 to 305.
The coins were found within an area of a few square meters; it didn’t take long for investigators to know they were on to something big. “What we found in the first three days exceeded all expectations by far,” said local archaeologist Georg Matter.
Swiss law dictates that these antiquities now belong to the public. The hoard is one of the largest ever discovered in Switzerland and will be displayed at the Vindonissa Museum in Brugg after further examination.