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Swiss farmer finds 4,166 Roman-era coins buried in his orchard

Buried Roman coins

The number of coins found in the farmer’s orchard stands at 4,166 and they are reported to be in excellent condition. It’s believed most of the coins are from the era of the Emperor Aurelian, circa A.D. 275, with some from the rule of Maximan two decades later.

There has been nothing in the discovery to explain how it was that whoever owned them left them there and never retrieved them. It’s believed they were buried sometime around A.D. 294. Many of the coins had been buried in leather pouches.

When he began unearthing coins the farmer said he realized they were likely Roman as he knew that months earlier, the remains of an early Roman-era settlement were unearthed near a Swiss town called Frick. Experts examining the ancient coins believe that most were taken from circulation shortly after having been minted.

Bronze and silver

The coins are mostly made from bronze but about 5 percent of the content is silver, considered high; collectively they weigh 15kg (33lb). They’re with the country’s archaeological service, who did most of the digging to recover the coins and officials say they represent one of the largest archaeological finds in the history of the country. They spent “months” digging at the site.

Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter told the Guardian in the U.K. how it came to past that these coins have remained buried for such a long period of time. “The orchard where the coins were found was never built on,” he said. “It is land that has always been farmed.”

Matter said that the “the objects found belong to the public, in accordance with Swiss law” but that the farmer would get a “finders fee.” The coins will eventually be displayed in a museum.

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