23 February 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

A hungry Badger uncovers the largest collection of such coins ever discovered in northern Spain

Archaeologists have uncovered a rich trove of 209 Roman-era coins in northwestern Spain, due to the apparent efforts of a hungry badger seeking food.

The coins were discovered in April 2021 in La Cuesta cave near Berció, Asturias, and were described as “an exceptional find” in the Journal of Prehistory and Archaeology published last month by Madrid’s Autonomous University.

The coins were most likely dug up by a badger looking for food during an unusual snowfall that immobilized Spain in January 2021, dubbed “the most violent storm in the past 50 years” by officials.

After fully excavating the cave, researchers collected 209 coins dating to between the third and fifth centuries A.D., according to Spanish news site El Pais. The find is the largest collection of such coins ever discovered in northern Spain.

Roman coins found in La Cuesta de Berció (Asturias).
Roman coins found in La Cuesta de Berció (Asturias). Photo: COUNCIL OF CULTURE OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF ASTURIAS

The coins themselves are “mainly from the north and the eastern Mediterranean, forming a line from Antioch, Constantinople [modern day Istanbul, Turkey], Thessaloniki”. However, one coin appears to have originated in London. The authors believe these 209 coins to be part of a larger set, which has now disappeared.

The researchers told El Pais the one minted in London was one of the most well-preserved coins and is “bronze, weighing between eight and 10 grams, with an approximate 4% silver.”

“The quantity of coins recovered, as well as the undoubted archaeological interest of the transition to the early medieval period, make the hoard discovered at Berció an exceptional find,” they wrote.

The researchers said the coins had likely been moved there in the “context of political instability” linked in particular to the invasion of the Suebians, a Germanic people, who pushed into the northwestern part of the Iberian peninsula in the 5th century.

Reverse of the coin minted in London. JOURNAL OF PREHISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
The reverse of the coin was minted in London. Photo: JOURNAL OF PREHISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY

The coins themselves are “mainly from the north and the eastern Mediterranean, forming a line from Antioch, Constantinople [modern day Istanbul, Turkey], Thessaloniki”. However, one coin appears to have originated in London. The authors believe these 209 coins to be part of a larger set, which has now disappeared.

As to how they came to be in a cave in northern Spain, the authors speculate they were moved – perhaps even hidden – there, “in times of instability for fear of theft or attacks”. They also suggest that such caves could have served as a sort of ancient bank account, into which people could deposit money and make withdrawals.

In the 5th century, the western part of the Asturias was invaded by the Suebians – Germanic people originating from what is now Germany and the Czech Republic – which could perhaps explain the “political instability” that would lead someone to hide their fortune in a cave.

Related Articles

A Little-Known Civilization in the Americas Built Pyramids as Old as Ancient Egypt

26 June 2022

26 June 2022

Considered the cradle of civilization in the Americas, the Sacred City of Caral-Supe is a 5000-year-old archaeological site, situated on...

A rare 2,500-year-old shipwreck found off the Greek island of Kythera

5 November 2021

5 November 2021

A rare shipwreck from the ancient era was discovered during the maritime survey for the Crete-Peloponnese subsea link. The Independent...

Excavation of Carlisle Roman bathhouse uncovers a connection between the site and a third-century Roman emperor

27 September 2021

27 September 2021

Excavation of a Roman bath at the Carlisle Cricket Club in Stanwix, part of the Uncovering Roman Carlisle project, has...

Monumental Roman complex discovered in France

19 March 2023

19 March 2023

In the city of Reims in northeastern France, archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman-era monumental complex dating from the 2nd...

Researchers identified, for the first time, the composition of a Roman perfume more than 2,000 years old

25 May 2023

25 May 2023

A research team at the University of Cordoba has identified, for the first time, the composition of a Roman perfume...

Negev desert archaeological site offers important clues about modern human origin

22 June 2021

22 June 2021

The archaeological excavation site at Boker Tachtit in Israel’s central Negev desert offers evidence to one of human history’s most...

Archaeologists in Egypt unearth Roman-era cabin and royal sphinx statue

6 March 2023

6 March 2023

An Egyptian archaeological mission discovered a sphinx statue inside a Roman-era limestone cabin excavated in Egypt’s south. The artifacts were...

Viking Ship Burials Shrouded in Mystery on Danish Island

25 May 2021

25 May 2021

Archaeologists studying the origins and makeup of the Kalvestene burial field, a famed place in Scandinavian legend, have undertaken new...

Maya city Tikal put today’s urban gardens to shame

26 June 2021

26 June 2021

The Maya civilization was known for its achievements in art, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, and calendar systems. Tikal, the ancient Maya...

The Error That Caused II.Ramses to Lose the Battle of Kadesh

5 February 2021

5 February 2021

The Battle of Kadesh between the Hittites and Egyptians in Anatolia, the two superpowers of the Bronze Age period, has...

The First Native Americans were Among the First Metal Miners in the World

20 March 2021

20 March 2021

An arrowhead made of pure copper 8,500 years ago dates the history of the copper age to an earlier period,...

1,800-Year-Old Sanctuary to Mithras discovered in Spain

8 February 2023

8 February 2023

Archaeologists excavating at Villa del Mitra in Cabra, Spain, have uncovered a sanctuary dedicated to the god Mithras, along with...

Over 1,600-yr-old tomb of embracing lovers found in north China

16 August 2021

16 August 2021

Archaeologists recently published a study of the tomb of cuddling lovers, dating to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), more than...

Oldest known arrowheads uncovered in the Americas

24 December 2022

24 December 2022

Archaeologists from Oregon State University have discovered projectile points in Idaho that are thousands of years older than any that...

Detector finds rare Merovingian gold ring refers to a previously unknown principality

22 February 2024

22 February 2024

A metal detectorist has unearthed a very rare, 1,500-year-old Merovingian gold ring made of 22-carat gold at Emmerlev in Southwest...