Large Iron Age treasure containing rare Roman coins found near Rakvere
The treasure includes 51 Roman coins - a host of sestertii and the first ever assarius found in Estonia, as well as rings and a few other pieces from 2-3 centuries AD. It doubles the number of sestertii unearthed in Estonia and stored in local collections.
The treasure was discovered on a riverside field in Uhtna village by archaeologist Ain Mäesalu and a group of remote sensing enthusiasts from Club Kamerad on Friday, as they were scanning the area with metal detectors in search of a 13th century battleground.
The unearthed treasure is the largest Roman era find in Estonia. It is made especially outstanding by the fact that, outside of the areas governed by the Roman Empire, the sestertii have so far only been found in the southeastern coast of the Baltic sea.
The previously largest such treasures in Estonia were found in Juminda peninsula, northern Estonia, and near Pärnu.
During the Roman Empire, a sesterce, or sestertius, was a large brass coin. In 2nd or 3rd century Rome, the coins in the treasure would have easily fed a family of four for a fortnight, Mauri Kiudsoo, keeper of the Institute of History's coin collection, told ETV's morning program "Terevisioon". However, he added that in this part of the world, the coins were not used as money, but reached the shores of the Baltic sea as spare metal, traded for amber by the tribes living in the region of what is now Kaliningrad and northern Poland.
The treasure came from a disturbed archaeological context, scattered over an area a few square meters, 10-30 centimeters deep. So it is hard to say when it was buried.
The finds are currently being preserved and archaeologists hope that they will one day go on display.
Sites where Roman sestertii have been found in Estonia. Red dots mark the discoveries of recent years, blue dots older discoveries of uncertain contexts (Photo: ERR)