Skip to comments.A Roman hoard from the end of empire
Posted on 05/01/2014 9:44:13 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
Dutch archaeologists have recently completed the rescue excavation of a unique treasure hoard dating to the beginning of the 5th century AD, from a field in Limburg...
According to the Byzantine historian Zosimus, Constantine III tried to re-secure the entire Roman Rhine frontier against Germanic invaders... The historians Orosius and Zosimus tells us that Constantine III solved the problem of the invading Germanic groups by liberal use of the money bag along with developing close alliances to Germanic warlords on both sides of the Rhine...
The Echt hoard would therefore have belonged to a Germanic officer in Roman service part of a network of these warlords in the pay of Constantine III...
Hacksilver reflects the economic and military crisis of the late Roman Empire. The early 5th century would have been a major drain of gold and silver from the Roman Centre to the barbaric periphery as part of desperate efforts to defend the border and help to recruit troops... The tableware may have been given complete to the Germanic leaders and they cut it up in order to be able to distribute the pieces to their soldiers.
The Echt hoard is a find with a special story and it represents a unique document for the final period of Roman rule in the Netherlands. The fact that the complete hoard could be salvaged through a full excavation means that the context was not lost. The concentration of gold hoards from this period seems especially connected to the frantic attempts of Emperor Constantine III to maintain a grip on the border defence in the lower Rhine region. However, in hindsight, the end of the Roman Empire was, by this time, a forgone conclusion.
(Excerpt) Read more at pasthorizonspr.com ...
Overview of the Really hoard consisting of an ensemble of coins, a ring, a silver ignot and fragments of silver tableware. Image: Limburgs Museum
A leader of an empire, constrained by domestic politics, throws money at the barbarians to stave off collapse on his watch.
Hmmm. Why does that sound familiar?
Bye today’s standards this would be old cell phones and hamburger wrappers. ;-)
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All the money from this will go to the government!
In 518 AD, when the emperor Anastasius died, wikipedia says the imperial treasury had 160 tons of the stuff.
To compare, China supposedly just built the world's largest gold vault, 2200 ton capacity, according to current-day gold ads on AM talk radio.
Millions for defense but a head for tribute!
Bad idea I guess
Millions for defense but a hoard for tribute!
Bad idea I guess
I hate you auto-correct
Finding these old hoards of valuables, jewelry and coins just goes to prove one thing: Trying to be a thrifty saver is just wrong.
Instead we should spend all our money in our lifetime. I highly recommend travel to exotic places, wine, women, song, and a few discrete tokes (without inhaling).
Whatever’s left you should just waste.
Was it left over from Alexander?
It appears from the coin Constantine III could have used a lapband surgery.
What does TROBS on the coin mean?
The “Really hoard”?!!!...Echt?
I've meant to look into a timeline of how much gold has been mined since the beginning of history, who had it, how much came from the New World, etc.
My 1965 Britannica has some of it, I think, but I can never remember it unless I write it down.
Thought that was Hitlery from the quick glance....
He had a brother, Christios I, Governor of Néos Fanéla
I didn’t it expect it so much to be the specific gold sent back to Greece by Alexander as being “descended” from that gold. Alexander’s gold (Persia’s gold) would have been floating around the Greek world and significantly increased the supply. I just don’t know if there has been an analysis to determine the percentage of gold in various treasuries that came from that original source. It would be a good way to map trade routes.
I'm sure there's been such an analysis. It would make a great book for the common reader if written by someone like Simon Winchester. "The History of Gold."
I hate to be a pain in the @ss but this is an example of the ROMANS failure to establish a stable central government. When Constantine killed his son he followed Augustus. Doom followed.
I always wonder about the story behind these hidden stashes.
Maybe it was stolen or maybe there was an attack and the person or persons hid the stash expecting to return later. Only they never returned which means that they were likely killed.
Or maybe they forgot where they buried it — “did I bury it near that tree or that tree? Darn!”
A man after my former heart.
You can’t take it with you and if I tried some of my relatives would dig me up to get it.
Preferably my naked departure will be from between two beautiful twenty year old blonds—and my ex-wife will arrive too late to bitch at me.
Used to be people’d fart and blame the dog. ;’)
“...so the bank manager said, ‘$70,000? That’s quite a sum. Did you hoard all that money by yourself?’ and the customer answered, ‘no, my sister hoard half of it.’”
The encyclopedias here date from early 1960s; at that time the figure for all the gold ever mined had hit a 50 foot cube; now the amount is closer to 80, which means that more than half of the gold ever mined has been since circa 1960.
It must have been hoarder to do back then.
My pleasure! It was nice to finally get around to digging out all those related links, showing the Roman expansion into the Baltic area and well east of the Rhine; there’s been a creeping myth about how the Varian Disaster halted Roman expansion, which is an anachronistic nationalist myth which developed out of modern study of surviving ancient sources.
That might have helped, luckily his main rival fixed the problem right up for him.
That’s a lot of dough. The largest single score was when Alexander seized the Persian Empire treasury, which was filled with the loot of the Middle East, Egypt, and a good bit of Asia. By the time The Great got up into what is now the ‘stans and needed more troops, the call for (mostly) Greek mercenaries had resulted in a couple hundred thousand arriving just in time for the spring campaign. Alexander had wintered in Balkh and healed up from serious wounds. Prior to that, his enemies couldn’t attack the city and he couldn’t venture out; he split the new forces into four armies of 50,000 each, and sent them up four river basins to corner and conquer any and all comers. That nickname wasn’t a joke. :’)
Because of the relatively limited amount of gold, its form changed repeatedly. A bunch of gold (like the hundreds of various shapes and forms kept in Solomon’s temple) would get hammered out and/or recast into other uses, including “books”, ritual collars, rings, scarabs (in Egypt), other jewelry, chains, etc.
When coin became commonplace (the invention of coin is generally attributed to the Kingdom of Lydia) it served the purpose of the medium of exchange, and also advertised the power of the name and image on the face of the coin.
Currency would get recycled by a successor, or conqueror, or rival, or neighbor, so many if not most of the ancient coins ceased to exist (and were probably minted in small numbers to begin with).
So, to make a short story long, Alexander’s big payday wound up recirculated throughout his empire, and that of his successors, and their successors, etc, but it’s probably impossible to know which gold was and wasn’t at any one place and again in another, because any large ancient hoards were sacked, carried off, and sacked again.
The biggest haul during the Roman Empire was Trajan’s conquest of Dacia. The Dacians had gold mines and piles of the stuff, and the oldest known examples of worked gold appears to be from that area.
The Romans used a lot of abbrev on their coins, I don’t know what that one means, but I’m sure someone does... hmm... let’s see... oh, it’s a mint mark.
Treveri (Trier, Germany)
50^3 is 125k ft^3, 80^3 is 512k ft^3!
The dogs is much worse than most of mine though
It’s poignant to think about this; about ten years ago there was a real avalanche of late Roman and early Byzantine coin finds from Romania, Bulgaria, etc, made possible by metal detectors entering those markets. A lot of those “clean them yourself” concretions of purportedly ancient coins available back then on eBay and whatnot were generally believed to be from that area. It made sense, because when the alarm was sounded that the barbarians had crossed the Danube (or whatever), the householders would, one imagines, dug a hole, stashed the household wealth, buried it, and then run for it. If they didn’t quite make it, no one would have known that it was there.
And unfortunately for manuscripts as well, i.e., the old writing would get scraped off and new writing put on.
Although with modern scientific techniques, they can sometimes recover the earlier writing.
Yeah, it’s impressive. Once we get out to assay the asteroids (I suggest starting with Earth-crossers) one big strike will probably double the known gold supply. That will be good for gold, but maybe not so much for the goldbugs. :’)
Inflation must have been rampant after Alexander sacked Susa. “Here, waiter, have a gold bar. Keep the change”.
“Bye todays standards this would be old cell phones and hamburger wrappers”
And starbucks gift cards.