Treasure in the form of ancient Roman gold and silver coins has been
found at a mining site in Huelva, southern Spain.
discovery is of “incalculable value and a milestone in the archaeology
of this mining area,” according to the archaeologists from Atalaya
Mining, the company operating the mining area where the coins were
The discovery contains approximately 40 to 50
silver and gold coins dating to the late first century and early
second century A.D., from the era of Roman emperors Nero, Trajan and Vespasian.
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The discovery took place on July 3 while company archaeologists were
working on excavating a Roman-era structure inside the mining
facilities, according to a statement released by the company to
Coin World in September.
Luis Iglesias, director
of archaeology at Atalaya Mining, and Juan Aurelio Pérez Macías,
professor at the University of Huelva, led the archaeological efforts
at the site. The mining area has been “exploited since time immemorial
and ... had a great splendor in Roman times,” according to a
translation of the Spanish statement from the company.
The coins were a considerable sum when they were cached, indicating
that the person who concealed them was a person of relevance within
the ancient city of Orium in the Rio Tinto region. The area is named
for the Rio Tinto, a river long known for its red coloration resulting
from the acidic, iron rich chemistry of the water and near which
mining has taken place for centuries (and which inspired the name of
the Rio Tinto Group, a mine owner previous to Atalaya Mining).
Besides the value of the coins, their discovery has offered
something else of incalculable value, new information.
to this finding we can prove that the city continues farther west than
we previously thought,” the company said.
Most of the
coins in the find are silver denarii, but at least two gold aureii
were part of the cache. The firm suggests that archaeologists will not
know when the coins were buried until further research is conducted,
but that the hoard may have been hidden during the time of the emperor
Marcus Aurelius, as the Baetica region was under assault from invaders
from North Africa.
A financial crisis and plague
exacerbated the threat, and certain towns were abandoned for more than
The coins were found bunched together because,
probably, they would have been held in a leather purse when cached,
according to Spanish news reports.
discovered the coins as they were placing a metal sheet to protect a
site that has already been identified as rich in Roman remains. The
excavations are being funded by the local province, and the latest
haul of found coins will remain provisionally on display at the Mining
Museum in Minas de RioTinto until a permanent place for them is
A separate find of 600 kilograms of bronze
Roman coins occurred in Seville in April 2016.