Posted By Zoey T. Posted On

Farmer discovers a massive hoard of more than 4,000 ancient Roman coins in Switzerland

Nestled amidst the serene beauty of a Swiss vineyard, an unparalleled archaeological revelation has emerged—an expansive assortment of Roman coins. Unfolding in the charming countryside town of Ueken, located in the northeastern region of Switzerland, this remarkable find was unveiled when fate intervened, and a farmer unexpectedly encountered these ancient treasures while meticulously caring for his cherished cherry orchard a few months ago.

The clay pot contained 1,290 Roman coins. © Image Credit: Archäologie Baselland

Upon realizing the significance of his discovery, the farmer wasted no time in notifying local experts in the field of archaeology, who swiftly arrived at the location. Their thorough examination verified the existence of a remarkable collection comprising almost 4,000 Roman coins, skillfully crafted from both copper and silver.

While the unearthing of substantial hoards of Roman coins is not uncommon in Britain, this particular finding stands out as a truly exceptional event. A notable precedent occurred in 2009 when the Frome Hoard, a sizable assortment of approximately 60,000 corroded coins, was discovered in a field within the county of Somerset.

This extraordinary collection from Switzerland holds immense significance, as it represents one of the most remarkable findings beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. Its excavation coincides with a global resurgence of interest in Rome and its historical heritage, as evidenced by the remarkable discovery of an intact tomb at the archaeological site of Pompeii in October.

According to archaeologists, vast quantities of Roman coins are frequently unearthed, often assumed to be offerings presented to Roman deities in ceremonial rituals. However, the Frome Hoard deviates from this pattern, as it was left behind and largely forgotten until recent times. Despite the recovery of the majority of the Swiss coins, their exact purpose remains a subject of speculation and is yet to be definitively determined.

Ancient Roman coins © Image Credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A remarkable revelation has emerged from recent archaeological excavations—a collection of excavators has been unearthed, shedding light on the intriguing behaviors of their mysterious owner. These extraordinary artifacts were meticulously buried between the years 270 and 294 AD, yet their enigmatic possessor never returned to reclaim them. While the coins minted during this period were swiftly removed from circulation, they were widely believed to possess substantial value, equivalent to one to two years’ wages during that era.

The coins, composed of a unique blend of bronze and silver, have been remarkably preserved in the soil. Renowned Swiss coin expert, Hugo Doppler, discerns that the owner intentionally selected these coins to accumulate, recognizing the silver content as a means of safeguarding their worth during times of economic instability. The discovery has brought great delight to Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter, who expressed his immense satisfaction.

“In the realm of archaeology, it is exceedingly rare to encounter such a significant finding more than once in a lifetime,” he disclosed during an interview with Spiegel Online. Despite the astonishing nature of the discovery, the Swiss farmer who stumbled upon the coins will not be able to claim ownership.

Vindonissa-Museum in Brugg © Image Credit: Roland Zumbuehl (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The farmer, as reported by Agence France-Presse, confidently anticipated receiving a well-deserved finder’s fee. However, in accordance with Swiss law, the discovered objects are considered public property. Consequently, the coins will find their place of prominence within the esteemed Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau, Switzerland—an esteemed institution devoted to the exploration of Roman history.