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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (12/2014) Headlines (10/2014) Headlines (02/2015)   Vol. 48 December 2014 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the December 2014 edition of W&ET Magazine


One of the most sought after coins on the planet sold at auction for more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

A Roman gold coin, minted more than 2,000 years ago, depicting the first and greatest emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus Caesar, sold for nearly 785,000 U.S. dollars in a U.K. auction.

The reverse side of the coin depicts a heifer, believed to be based on a lost Greek sculpture. The gold Roman coin is called an aureus, and this is only one of 22 known to have survived.

One of the auctioneers said in a press release, “This was a strong price for a truly extraordinary coin. Not only is it a unique type of a very rare coin but is extremely fine and visually it is a beautiful work of art. It also represents an epic period when Augustus built an empire that changed the course of human history.”

While the exact date of the minting is unknown, the Dix Noonan Webb auction house estimates it was sometime around 27 to 18 BC, as prior to 27 BC Augustus Caesar, the great nephew of Julius Caesar, was referred to by his birth name, Octavian. He took on the name Augustus, meaning “dignified” or “stately” as he began to dramatically enlarge the Roman Empire.

Augustus was such a great ruler, they even named the month of August after him.

From, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR, and Lisa Lommasson, Pebble Beach, CA.


An extremely rare and well-preserved 17th century coin was found by an amateur treasure hunter recently in a field in Nottinghamshire, England, the Daily Mail reported.

John Stoner, 42, dug up a 1652 silver threepenny coin, a piece that has been hailed as one of the finest examples of currency produced in the days of the Pilgrim Fathers, as he ploughed the field in the village of King’s Clipstone.

Coin expert Peter Spencer confirmed it was a genuine threepenny piece, commissioned and struck in Boston, Massachusetts.

“I handed it over to him and I think it’s fair to say he went white as a ghost,” Stoner said, according to the Daily Mail. “He said its condition was like the day it was struck.”

The single coin is not subject to treasure trove laws that require such finds be reported and handed to Crown officials. The coin is now reportedly in the United States and being cleaned by an expert before it will be auctioned for sale in London in December.

In 2012, a silver Colonial Massachusetts coin from 1652 that was found in a potato field was auctioned for $430,000. Stoner’s coin could bring in $1.7 million, according to the Mail.

From FN, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.


A boy playing on a New Jersey beach has unearthed a 10,000-year-old arrowhead possibly used by ancient Native Americans to spear fish or hunt mastodon.

Noah Cordle, 10, and his family were vacationing on the Long Beach Island recently when he found it at the edge of the surf in the community of Beach Haven.

It was sharp enough that it hurt as it hit his leg. He thought it was a crab until he picked up the object.

The Springfield, Virginia family contacted the Archaeological Society of New Jersey to check it out.

The president, Greg Lattanzi, who is also a curator at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, tells the Asbury Park Press that the arrow point probably dates back 8,000 to 11,000 years. Back then, the New Jersey shore was a cold and treeless place just after glaciers had retreated.

“I was basically blown away,” he said. “Finding these is rare.”

Lattanzi says his museum has about two dozen of these Paleoindian points, but most were found by professionals at archaeological digs.

Only one other in the collection washed up on a beach.

Lattanzi said he believes that a beach-replenishment project probably scooped up the tool and pushed it toward the shore.

“Jasper is a yellow-brown stone,” Lattanzi told the paper. “The reason why it’s black is because it was buried in the sand for literally thousands of years without oxygen. In the mid-section, there is a nick, and if you look closely, it’s orangy-brown.”

He told the paper that the ocean, during the time the arrowhead was likely used, was about 100 miles farther than it is today, and post-Sandy beach replenishment helped unearth the artifact.

The Cordle family visited the State Museum after the discovery and learned how the arrowheads were made.

The family says they plan to donate it to a museum after Noah has a chance to show his class what he found.

From the AP, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.


A diver has found what is believed to be the oldest gold coin ever discovered in Bulgaria, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported recently. The coin was found in shallow waters near the resort town of Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

The diver saw the gleaming coin by accident, the report said, and later passed it on to Bozhidar Dimitrov—a native of Sozopol and former diver himself, who is now head of the National History Museum in Sofia.

BTA quoted numismatist Vladimir Penchev from the National History Museum saying that the coin is not solid gold, but made of electrum— the naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, used to mint some of the earliest metal coins in human history.

The particular coin appears to have been minted in the kingdom of Lydia in western Anatolya, sometime in the second half of the seventh century BCE, which put the coin’s age at more than 2,750 years, he said.

Sozopol was founded as a colony of the Greek city state of Miletus in western Anatolia— first named Antheia, but later changing its name to Apollonia. Since Miletus was a neighbor of the kingdom of Lydia, it is no surprise that a Lydian coin has been found in the town’s environs, but it is the first of its kind found in Bulgaria, according to Penchev.

The coin weighs 0.63 grams and has a denomination of 1/24 of a stater.

From The Sofia Globe, submitted by Jeff Kehl, Avon, MN, and Lisa Lommasson, Pebble Beach, CA.


A small pit filled with ancient Roman jewelry that dates back nearly 2,000 years to a violent riot that occurred around A.D. 61 was unearthed beneath a London-area department store, according to a British archaeology organization.

An archaeologist with the Colchester Archaeological Trust, a registered charity devoted to promoting archaeology in the area, discovered the buried treasure during an excavation beneath the Williams & Griffin department store in the town center.

The haul includes three gold armlets, two silver bracelets, a silver chain necklace, a small bag of coins, a “substantial” silver armlet and a small jewelry box with four gold rings and two sets of gold earrings. The surprise find represents the first discovery of precious metals in the British town of Colchester, the archaeologists said.

“It is very exciting for us, as we only find precious metals very rarely,” the trust wrote in a statement. “The treasure is archaeologically significant because it was buried under the Boudican destruction debris, and it tells a powerful story.”

The Boudican Revolt occurred when native Britons staged an uprising against the Roman occupation of their country. The rebellion was brutal, with archaeological evidence showing that buildings in London, Colchester and St. Albans were burned to the ground and that many of the towns’ inhabitants were slaughtered. Eventually, Roman army members put down the protest, preserving Britain’s place in the Roman Empire.

“The find is a particularly poignant one because of its historical context,” the trust wrote in its update. “It seems likely that the owner, or perhaps one of her slaves, buried the jewelry inside her house for safekeeping during the early stages of the Boudican Revolt, when prospects looked bleak.”

The block of soil from which the jewelry was recovered is still being excavated at a conservation laboratory, and the researchers say more artifacts could be found in the area.

The archaeologists said whoever buried the jewelry may have been unable to rescue it after a fire leveled both the house and the surrounding town. Just before they discovered the trinkets, archaeologists also found human bones, embedded in debris from the ancient riot, near the site.

Two of those bones showed signs of sword cuts, which suggests somebody inside the house fought and died there, the scientists said.

Other finds at the site include meal ingredients— such as wheat, peas and grain— and a wooden shelf that was likely used to hold the ingredients. The shelf probably fell down as the revolt raged, but traces of its carbon are still on the floor, the archaeologists said. In general, the revolt left a black and red layer about 1.6 feet thick under the present-day town of Colchester.

“The layer consists of the stumps of the standing burnt clay walls of buildings smothered under a mass of broken and collapsed fragments of clay from the upper parts of the walls,” representatives from the trust said.

“The jewelry will likely be given to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service after it is analyzed, the archaeologists said.

From, submitted by Lisa Lommasson, Pebble Beach, CA, and Jeff Kehl, Avon, MN.


A ring lost by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War has completed a long journey home.

The ring was worn by Levi Schlegel, who is believed to have lost it nearly 150 years ago at an encampment near Fredericksburg, VA.

Relic hunter John Blue found the ring at a construction site in 2005. Though it was engraved with Schlegel’s name and unit- “Co., G., 198th P.V.,” or Pennsylvania Volunteers- Blue wasn’t sure how to find Schlegel’s descendants, and kept the ring in a box for several years.

A genealogist ultimately helped Blue track down Schlegel’s family. Recently, Blue presented the ring to a distant cousin during a ceremony at Levi Schlegel’s grave in Reading.

“This is truly a hero’s journey,” said the cousin, Ernie Schlegel.

Another distant relative, James W. Schlegel of Reading, said he felt pride as he touched the ring.

“I think about all the time that passed since Levi and so many others fought for our freedom,” Schlegel, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, told the Reading Eagle. “As a veteran, I know the importance of fighting for freedom, and I’m proud to know the Schlegel family did its part.”

After the war, Levi Schlegel returned to Reading, where he worked as a carpenter. He died in 1932 at 91.

From the AP, submitted by Bruce Weis and Zoueva Grossmann.


A boy in an east China province made a huge discovery while washing his hands in a river.

The 11-year-old felt something sharp and dug out this metal sword. When he brought it home, news spread and then offers to buy the sword started flooding in.

His father thought it might be illegal to sell so he sent it to the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau and it determined the weapon came from the Shang or Zhou dynasties from more than 3,000 years ago.

China seems to be a treasure trove for ancient artifacts.

Last year, archaeologists discovered what they believed to be some of the world’s oldest known writing. Markings etched on broken axes resemble a modern Chinese character and it dated back roughly 5,000 years.

From, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.

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