A metal detectorist in northern Germany discovered the find of a
lifetime last October.
Amateur archaeologist Florian Bautsch found 217 gold coins in a
hoard that had been buried beneath the roots of a tree that later was
removed. The tree's removal had somewhat scattered the coins.
Bautsch, 31, found one coin, then nine more, before contacting
archaeologists to remove the rest. The hoard recovery process took two weeks, according
to an English-language report from TheLocal.de, Germany’s news in English.
The coins had been buried for some 70 years when Bautsch located
them. Though scattered around the find area, the coins had once been
in two pouches, according to Thelocal.de.
A German-language news story from LZplay.de reported that the hoard is
worth €45,000 (about $48,948 U.S.)
Officials have no idea who buried the hoard or why it wasn’t
recovered until now.
The hoard is the largest gold find in the town of Lüneburg in Lower
Saxony, a state in northwestern Germany near Hamburg.
According to TheLocal.de, 128 of the coins are from Belgium, 74 from
France and 12 from Italy. The remaining three coins were from Austria-Hungary.
Each of the coins weighs 6.45 grams and measures 21 millimeters in
diameter, according to TheLocal.de, suggesting they are the popular
Most of the coins were minted between 1850 and 1910, with the oldest
dating to 1831, it reported. The hoard was likely buried during or
soon after World War II but no later than 1950, based on forensic
examination of pasteboard packaging material also found with the
coins, TheLocal.de reported.
The coins were put on display at the Lüneburg
Museum on July 14.
Lüneburg archaeologist Edgar Ring said that the coins appear to have
belonged to the national Nazi bank, because that bank's emblem, an
imperial eagle and swastika, is on two aluminum seals found with the
coins. The seals would have been attached to the now-disintegrated
pouches that held the coins.
That suggests the coins may have been stolen, Ring said.
Archaeologists are not disclosing the exact location of the find to
protect it from illegal hunting.
Because the coins were in bank bags, archaeologists note that state
officials may have taken the coins from an individual or individuals
to fund the war machine. Or, the coins may have been part of a robbery
or war crime, both of which have no statute of limitation.
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