Amateur Divers Discover One of the Largest Collections of Roman Coins off Coast of Spain

University of Alicante

It is one of the largest sets of Roman gold coins found in Spain and Europe.

What sounds like it could be the plot to a new Indiana Jones film actually happened after a couple of amateur divers have discovered one of the largest collections of Roman coins off the east coast of Spain, CNN reported.

The hoard of gold Roman coins were first found by Luis Lens and César Gimeno while they were diving off the island of Portitxol in Xàbia on August 24, CNN reported.

Initially they found eight coins and alerted Directorate General for Culture and Heritage, which then allowed further dives by archaeologists who recovered a payload of 45 coins, according to a press release from the University of Alicante Tuesday.

The coins are 1,500 years old and according to the university are in perfect condition. Historians and scientists are dating the coins between the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century.

The university said that the coins were so perfectly preserved that they could read the inscriptions on them as to whom the emperor was at the time of their creation. Markings on the coins are from the periods of government of these Roman emperors: Valentinian I (3 coins), Valentinian II (7 coins), Theodosius I (15 coins), Arcadius (17 coins), Honorius (10 coins) and an unidentified coin.

Jaime Molina Vidal, professor of ancient history at the University of Alicante and leader of the team of underwater archaeologists, told CNN that the discovery is “very significant," adding, “it's enormously valuable."

The professor believes that the gold belonged to a wealthy landowner who hid the collection in order to protect it from invaders as looting was happening in the western Roman Empire, now Spain and Portugal, at the time by barbarians.  

"We are in the presence of a fantastic archaeological document from the time when, in this case, the Alans arrived," said Molina Vidal.

The coins will be restored and then exhibited at the Soler Blasco Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Xàbia at an unknown date, NBC News reported.

Further exploration for more buried treasures in the sea where the coins were found will be funded by the Valencia local government, which has granted $21,000 to the team, NBC News reported.

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