They found a treasure of 175 Roman coins that tells the story of an imperial soldier from two millennia ago

The original number of coins should be very close or even coincide with what was found (Soprintendenza Archeologia)

A little treasure of 175 Roman coins over two thousand years oldfound in a forest in the center of Italy, could provide valuable numismatic, historical and social information about the period late republican of the Ancient Rome.

The discovery occurred on November 9, 2021 on the farm Bellavista Insuesean agricultural and forest area of ​​natural interest between collesalvetti and Leghorn (center).

It happened by chance, when a member of the Archaeological Paleontological Group of Livorno spotted some apparently old coins while walking on a sloping terrain affected by a recent felling of trees.

The man contacted the archaeological superintendence, the public body that is in charge of the findings. He sent photos to the person in charge of the area and, after receiving confirmation of the archaeological interest, he continued to monitor the area until almost all the coins and some fragments of the container that contained them were recovered.

In the following days, the Superintendence conducted a excavation in the area, with the recovery of some more coins.

Roman coins Livorno Italy
The earliest coins in the treasury date from 157 or 156 BC, and the latest from 83 or 82 BC (Soprintendenza Archeologia)

Altogether, the small treasure found, of late republican eraconsists of 175 silver denarii in a good state of conservation, with the exception of two fractured and completely recomposed coins, one broken in two parts and only slightly more than half preserved, according to a statement from the Livorno Paleontological Group.

The original number of coins should be very close to or even coincide with what foundsince, despite the broken container, many denarii were still grouped and only a few specimens were scattered in a short radius away from the larger nucleus.

The story that coins tell

Although it is impossible to know exactly who buried the coins, it is most likely that they were the treasure of an ancient soldier who served during the bellum sociale (allied war) of Rome from 91 to 88 BC and during the civil war between Sila and the marians from 83 to 82 BC

At this time the mass of minting reflects the great movement of men and means by Rome against the revolt of the Italian allies and, later, during the Civil war who saw the conflict between the faction of the optimizesleadered by Lucius Cornelius Sullaand that of the popular ones, or marians because they were followers of the seven times consul mario key.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Male bust known as Sulla, c. 40 BC copy of an original from the late 2nd century BC or Augustan period (Wikipedia/Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek)

The owner of the treasure buried it in a terracotta vessel that served as a piggy bank. The earliest coins in the treasury date from 157 or 156 BC, and the latest from 83 or 82 BC.according to the statement of the archaeological group.

The finding tells us about the enlistment, ordered by mario keyfrom people who did not have any assets or property and who could have earned a stipend, with which, once discharged, they could return to their lands and agriculture.

The finding could represent the savings of a soldier involved in the war operations of Rome that, upon returning to his house and his fields, he would have hidden the silver denarii under a tree in the nearby forest, to never get them back again.

Roman coins Livorno Italy
At that time, 175 denarii was equivalent to a soldier’s salary for a year and a half. Now, the treasure is worth between 20,000 and 25,000 euros. (Soprintendenza Archeology)

“This treasure is about a person’s life, a soldier’s life savings, and his hopes of building his farm,” he told CNN Lorella Alderighi, the official archaeologist of the provinces of Pisa and Livorno. “However, she also tells a sad story: the owner of the coins died before she could make his dreams come true with his savings. The coins tell the story of him.”

At that time, 175 denarii was equivalent to salary of a soldier for a year and a half, according to Alderighi. Now the treasure is worth between 20,000 and 25,000 euros, he added.

exhibition in the museum

He study of the material found has lasted more than a year and it has been carried out thanks to the work of the Superintendency together with the Livorno Natural History Museum.

The Museum of Natural History of the Mediterranean of the Province of Livorno and the Region of Tuscany financed the printing of the catalog and the realization of a exhibition from May 5 to July 2.

“It is one of the few deposits of ancient coins that have been found intact and provides a lot of numismatic, historical and social information,” Alderighi said.

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