Italian Hiker Discovers 2,000-Year-Old Buried Treasure

A n Italian hiker from an archaeological group discovered a buried treasure that dates back to as early as 157 BCE, according to an April 14 news release from the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Pisa and Livorno.

The hiker made this discovery while walking through newly cut forest northeast of the Tuscan city of Livorno. They noticed a shiny object on the forest floor, and when they stopped to investigate, realized that they’d come across a collection of dated silver coins.

After conducting a thorough investigation, researchers from the Livornese Paleontological Archaeological Group reported finding a total of 175 ancient Roman coins, called denarii. These coins, which were found along with remnants of a terracotta pot, would be worth tens of thousands of dollars in today’s currency.

Inventory of excavated coins. Photo via Gruppo Archeologico Paleontologico Livornese.

Archaeologist Lorella Alderighi told LiveScience, “The coins have definitely been hidden—they constituted a ‘treasure’ or piggy bank. The easiest way to hide valuables was to bury them underground, away from homes where no one could find them.”

There are several opposing theories as to who the cache of money may have belonged to. Archaeologists have suggested that the coins may have been buried by a Roman soldier.

The coins are all from between 157 BCE and 82 BCE, which correlates with “a very turbulent historical period in Italian history,” Alderighi said. “These coins may have been the savings of a soldier returning home (during) military service. He had hidden them because they constituted a useful sum, perhaps to buy and start his own farm.”

On the contrary, historian and professor Federico Santangelo told LiveScience he believes the coins may have belonged to a businessman. “A number of people at times of crisis buried their stash of money and for whatever reason were prevented from retrieving it,” said Santangelo, who heads Classics and Ancient History at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. “I don’t think we should trace this money to a soldier, although in principle it is possible.”

The collection of silver coins will soon be displayed at the Museum of Natural History of the Mediterranean in the Province of Livorno, regional Italian newspaper Il Terrino reported.

Featured image: Photo via Gruppo Archeologico Paleontologico Livornese.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

What Do You Think?