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200 silver denarius discovered in Empúries

The 2,500-year-old Empúries site on the Costa Brava continues to provide surprises. The last three weeks of excavations, carried out by thirty students attending the 70th edition of Archaeology Course of Empúries, lead to the largest treasure ever found on the site; a ceramic-vase containing 200 silver denarius dating from the 1st century BC.

200 silver denarius discovered in Empúries
Ceramic vase and denarii found in Empúries [Credit: Archaeological Museum of Catalonia]
Thanks to the good conditions of the treasure, the archaeologists have concluded that the treasure would have been hidden by its owner in one of the rooms of the houses which are also being excavated. The treasure would have been lost after a fire which hit the property. Besides this treasure, 24 amphorae of wine have been discovered in the cellar ​​the house, a slab of bronze -'simpulum'- to extract wine and two bracelets.

The discoveries were found on the oldest levels of the Roman city. In particular, inside a house of the 1st century BC which was excavated before. This time, the archaeologists have focuses on the cellar, where 24 amphorae of wine were found, most of them of Italic origin, a slab of bronze -'simpulum'- to extract wine and two bracelets.

200 silver denarius discovered in Empúries
Some of the denarii found in Empúries after cleaning [Credit: Archaeological Museum of Catalonia]
However, the most important discovery was found further from the cellar. A ceramic-vase in the shape of an amphorae with 200 silver denarius inside. According one of the responsible of the excavation team, Pere Castanyer “not even the most optimistic would have imagined that there were so many coins”.

Waiting for the analysis to be completed, the archaeologists believe that the treasure would have been hidden intentionally and that his owner never had the change to recover it. “This was a huge amount of money by that time and would have allowed the owner to live comfortably for quite a long time” stated Castanyer and explained that a soldiers’ wage was about 10 denarius and that a monthly rent in that period was around 2 denarius.

200 silver denarius discovered in Empúries
Amphorae and simpulum in situ [Credit: Archaeological Museum of Catalonia]
Empúries, a site with 108 years of success

Known as the ruins of Empúries, the excavations began up to 180 years ago and they have always “yielded results" since then, stressed Archaeology Museum of Catalonia’s Director, Josep Manuel Rueda. He also praised the research and good management that the team responsible for the site have carried out so far. All in all, he added, has allowed Empúries to become an international benchmark and "the most important” in Catalonia.

Source: Catalan News Agency [July 22, 2016]

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