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article imagePot of gold — Roman coins, dating back to 474 BC, found in Italy

By Karen Graham     Sep 10, 2018 in Science
Italian authorities unveiled the "epochal" discovery of hundreds of Roman-era gold coins found in the basement of the Cressoni Theater in Como, Italy. The trove of coins was unearthed during work to build a new apartment building.
The 300 or so coins date from the late imperial era and were found in a soapstone amphora. The discovery occurred last week in the center of Como, during archaeological excavations carried out inside of the restructuring site of the former Cressoni theater, in via Diaz, not far from the Novum Comum forum area. A gold bar was also found inside the jar.
"We do not yet know in detail the historical and cultural significance of the find," said The Minister of Culture, Alberto Bonisoli, according to ABC News. "But that area is proving to be a real treasure for our archeology. A discovery that fills me with pride,"
At a Monday press conference, Maria Grazia Facchinetti, a numismatist told reporters that whoever placed the jar of coins in that place "buried it in such a way that in case of danger they could go and retrieve it. They were stacked in rolls similar to those seen in the bank today,"
She said that the coins have engravings of emperors Honorius, Valentinian III, Leon I, Antonio, and Libio Severo "so they don't go beyond 474 AD. All of this makes us think that the owner is not a private subject, rather it could be a public bank or deposit," Facchinetti added.
The coins were discovered last week, according to Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MIBAC), and were transferred to the MIBAC restoration laboratory in Milan where archaeologists and restorers are examining them. Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli joined archaeologists and the Carabinieri art squad on Monday to unveil the first 27 coins after they had been cataloged, according to CTV News Canada.
The ministry did not place a value on the coins, but there has been much speculation in the Italian media with some people suggesting the coins could be worth millions of dollars, according to CNN News.
The historic Cressoni Theater opened on December 30, 1870. It was later transformed into a cinema before eventually closing in 1997. In 2018, the interior of the building was demolished and only the perimeter walls remain of the theater.
And now, with the finding of a pot of gold coins buried in the remains of the building's basement, the theater has reignited an interest in its historical significance.
The waterfront on Lake Como. The city of Como is close by.
The waterfront on Lake Como. The city of Como is close by.
Mariya Georgieva mariyageorgieva
The Roman Imperial Period
The Roman Imperial Period is a term used to chronicle both history and archaeology during that time and corresponds to the expansion of the political and cultural influence of the Roman Empire. The period begins with the Augustan reform, and it is taken to end variously between the late 3rd and the late 4th century.
You could say the term, Late Antiquity would also count as "late Roman imperial period," up to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476. And keep in mind that with the assassination of Emperor Alexander Severus on 18 March 235, the Roman Empire sank into a 50-year period of civil war, now known as the Crisis of the Third Century.
So it is difficult to tell what was behind the burial of a pot full of gold coins. It may have had something to do with the political climate of the times, or maybe someone was saving up for a rainy day. But interestingly enough, with the coins that were found in Como bearing the likenesses of public figures up to AD 474, it leaves an unanswered historical question - What was the real reason for the coins being buried?
More about roman coins, amphora, 473 BC, Archaeology, Como Italy
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