We all dream of coming across buried treasure while exploring the wilderness, but it’s rare that someone actually finds anything of value. A hiker from Livorno, in Tuscany, Italy, is among the lucky few. While out with a group of archaeologists in November 2021, they stumbled across a trove of 175 silver coins, which are said to be 2,000 years old!
The news was originally shared by the Hungarian Numismatic Society and confirmed by the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Pisa and Livorno. The hiker, who is a member of the Livorno Paleontological Archaeological Group, noticed the glimmer of coins beneath a pile of fallen leaves, leading to the impressive discovery.
Of the 175 silver denars found, only two were broken. It’s believed the hoard was only discovered due to deforestation, which has resulted in the decline of the local terrain in recent decades.
The coins are believed to date back to around 157-156 and 82 BC, and were found among pieces of a broken terracotta pot, which likely held the once-buried treasure. Some think they were buried by a soldier during Sulla’s Civil War, which saw the commander successfully take on leaders of the Roman Republic. Others feel that a wealthy merchant buried the treasure and, for one reason or another, didn’t return for it.
“The coins have definitely been hidden – they constituted a ‘treasure’ or piggy bank,” Lorella Alderighi, an archaeologist with the provincial office of archaeology, told Live Science. “The easiest way to hide valuables was to bury them underground, away from homes where no one could find them.”
She added that the denars were buried during a difficult time in Italy’s history, explaining that “it was a very turbulent historical period. Sulla’s soldiers conquered territories as they advanced from south to north. But central Italy and Tuscany had not yet been conquered.”
While the discovery was made in late 2021, it wasn’t until April 2023 that the public was made aware, as archaeologists wanted to keep the site preserved. The coins will eventually be put on display at the Museum of Natural History of the Mediterranean.