Ancient HoardsHow exciting would it be to find an entire hoard of ancient coins? I can't imagine how incredible it must be. Hoards are very important to numismatists, scholars and archaeologists alike, as the material presents a great amount of detail about a specific snapshot in time. For example, a hoard may have been a payroll for troops on the move. Or, the life savings of a merchant. It could be a cache buried while a town was being overrun by invaders or the result of a natural disaster such as Mt. Vesuvius erupting.
Hoards occur for many different reasons and it is the hopes of the archaeologist to determine their purpose. They help the scholar in determining what was happening in the area at the time and the numismatists gains through the revelation of new types, documented data to assist in rarity calculations and often, hoard material is simply gorgeous as most, if not all, of the coins are protected from 2000 years of elements.
Well-documented hoards are increasing as Great Britain (excluding Scotland) helps promote them through their "1996 Treasure Act". Since Great Britain, unlike many other European and Asian countries, realizes the benefit of having metal detectorists work together with the local authorities, more finds are reported. With more finds being reported, comes more data. A winning situation for everyone... detectorists get to look for treasure, museums gets first shot at the treasure and will pay the detectorists fair market value if they want the treasure, the archaeologist is assisted by getting more information (which they couldn't get by themselves as there are too many sites to cover) and the scholar gets to document history better. If the detectorists get to keep the coins, often they will come to market, so numismatists get a shot at some potentially truly excellent and/or rare coins.
It is my hope to bring the reader information about, and examples from, different hoards, so a greater appreciation for these fantastic finds can be obtained.
For more information on the success of finds in Great Britain, click here for "The Portable Antiquities Scheme" homepage.
List of Hoards:
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