A diver’s chance discovery of a metallic object near Sardinia’s coast has led to the remarkable find of tens of thousands of ancient bronze coins.
The Italian culture ministry revealed that a diver spotted the metal and alerted the authorities. Divers from an art protection unit, as well as experts from the ministry’s undersea archaeology division, investigated.
The bronze coins, dating back to the first half of the fourth century, were found in the midst of sea grass, not far from the northeastern shoreline of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The ministry didn’t specify when the first sighting occurred but stated it was in the vicinity of Arzachena.
The presence of coinage from Constantine the Great indicated that the treasure could be accurately dated to the period between 324 and 340 AD.
The exact number of coins retrieved remains undetermined as they are currently undergoing sorting. However, the ministry estimated there are at least around 30,000 coins, potentially even as many as 50,000, based on their collective weight.
Rare state of preservation
Remarkably, all the coins were found in an exceptional and rare state of preservation, with even the few damaged ones still bearing legible inscriptions.
A video shared by the ministry showcased divers employing metal detectors to unearth coins, many of which were partially buried in the sand.
This newfound treasure trove surpasses the significance of the 2013 discovery of a cache of 22,888 similar coins in the United Kingdom.
Luigi La Rocca, an official from the Sardinian archaeology department, emphasised the importance of this discovery, stating it is “one of the most important coin discoveries” in recent years. He also said the treasure’s value is further evidence of the wealth and historical significance of the seabed, which has witnessed the passage of humans and goods for countless centuries.