Skip to comments.Amateur Treasure Hunter Finds Roman Gold Hoard
Posted on 02/22/2014 10:07:09 AM PST by nickcarraway
German archaeologists have recovered a find of over a million euros worth of Roman gold and silver jewellery from an amateur treasure hunter who dug it up illegally in a forest.
The unnamed treasure seeker came across the buried treasure, estimated to be worth more than 1 million, while searching a wooded area in southern Rhineland-Palatinate with a metal detector.
The trove includes a number of leaf-shaped solid gold brooches which are thought to have formed part of the decorations from a coat of high office which once belonged a very important Roman ruler. They date from the late antiquity period - around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire.
Experts say the find could be the largest and most magnificent collection of late antiquity pieces ever found in Germany. It also includes a solid silver bowl set with gold and stones and a set of gold and silver plated statuettes which formed part of a military commander's portable chair.
CLICK HERE to see the Roman treasures
"The [original] owner lived well," said chief archaeologist Axel von Berg as he presented the find to press on Tuesday evening.
The treasure hunter initially kept his discovery secret and is thought to have sold off part of it on the black market, but it was seized by the authorities when it came to their attention.
"The looter rendered up [the pieces] himself - but only under pressure from investigators," said Ulrich Himmelmann, head of the Speyer branch of the state archaeology authority.
Prosecutors in the west German state are now investigating the case and will attempt to uncover any further missing pieces, said von Berg, without elaborating further on the circumstances or charges against the finder.
Experts say the treasure, some of which appears Eastern European in style, was buried around 1,500 years ago about the time when Germanic Teutons were plundering and pillaging their way through the crumbling Roman empire.
In the chaos, the so-called barbarians were looting valuables from Romans and each other. Either a Roman ruler buried the treasure as they fled the area or it was hidden by a barbarian and never recovered.
Archaeologists say the thousands of amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors are a nuisance and pose a serious danger to historical artifacts.
They often damage or destroy pieces when they dig them up and then attempt to sell them off on the black market and destroy the dig site.
In this case, a silver folding chair was "brutally torn out of the earth and destroyed," said von Berg. The find will soon appear on display to the public in a special exhibition, said Rhineland- Palatinate Culture Minister Doris Ahnen.
In Rhineland-Palatinate searching with a metal detector is a minor offence, but taking the find is a criminal matter under property laws. Not telling authorities about the find can lead to a fraud prosecution, while selling it on can end in a charge for dealing in stolen goods.
He’d be better off selling the pieces bit by bit every month.
All it would take is one of his buyers get into it with the cops, the cops realizing the art, the buyer rolls on the seller to save himself. I got to go with melting it.
How do you sell unmarked gold ingots? Plus, the value isn’t just the gold itself, but the antiquity. It’s not that hard to sell an antiquity one piece at a time.
Sell one a month and you’re doing well. Keep your job, use the money to save and save. Retire in ten years or so and no one’s the wiser. Too much greed ruins the deed.
Those would have ALL been sewn as decorations on clothing, for me a formal dress. They are uniform enough to look factory manufactured and would not be that detectable.
Sounds like he should have just left it buried. You get punished for finding something.
Gold is testable, probably cost you something, but they sell gold dust all the time to an assayer. I agree on the antiquity value, but once discovered, you'd have little chance of keeping it.
Blast! All you ask is that your Roman gold hoard remains hidden. Is nothing sacred these days?
Apparently, you, like I, have watched that movie waaaayyyyy to many times!
Museums’ storehouses are full of “antiquities”. Never shown to the public because most museum holdings are in storage for “study”. You’d think these greedy archeologists would have to compensate an individual who finds something...at current value. They enjoy ripping-off the public, don’t they? If you find something, never tell them.
[”Europe doesnt quite have the private property rights of America.”]And we don’t quite have as many as we used to!
The German “authorities” should offer a healthy percentage of the find to the finder and thus encourage rather than discourage amateur archaeology.
What a great way to encourage people to just dig up these relics and melt them down in to untraceable “scrap” metal. Typical liberal thinking. Farmers will lose there land if the three speckled titmouse is in his fields so he kills everyone pf them to save his farm. Any amatuer will now just keep his mouth shut.