Diver spots ancient coin hoard off Sardinian coast
A diver off the northeastern coast of Sardinia discovered one of the largest caches of Roman coins ever found. According to a press release by the Italian Ministry of Culture, the coins date to the first half of the fourth century CE, and include coins of the Roman emperors Licinius (r. 308–324) and Constantine the Great (r. 306–337), who co-authored the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire.
The massive cache of Roman coins was discovered in pristine condition. Although it is not yet certain exactly how many coins were found, an early estimate places the number between 30,000 and 50,000, based on weight. Of those, only a handful have any significant damage. All the coins date between 324 and 340 and originated from nearly every mint in the empire at that time. As the coins are cleaned and preserved, archaeologists will gain a better understanding of their context and also their exact count.
The coins were spotted by a local diver near the town of Arzachena. The diver immediately alerted the local archaeological authorities, who carried out a salvage excavation in the area. The location of the find—a large sandy area near the beach—suggests the coins were likely part of an ancient shipwreck, and archaeologists plan to continue their work in the area to discover the remains of the ship.
According to Luigi La Rocca, a Sardinian archaeology department official, “The treasure found in the waters of Arzachena represents one of the most important discoveries of numismatic finds in recent years and 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 guards and conserves.”
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