Treasure 175 silver denarii from the Roman Republic first put on display a year and a half after it was discovered near Livorno, Tuscany. All but one minted by the mint in Rome are dated between 157 and 82 BC. With the exception of two fragments, they are intact and in excellent condition. The terracotta pot in which they were buried was also found, making it an extremely rare complete Republican-era coin hoard that has been unearthed by archaeological digs since discovery.
The coins were first discovered in November 2021 by Alberto Cesio while hiking through Tenuta Bellavista Insuese, an organic farm, agritourism site and nature reserve a few miles north of Livorno. Chesio was looking for mushrooms in a wooded area where the undergrowth had recently been cleared and several trees had been felled when he noticed two shards, each containing a small round lump. He shook off some earth and realized that they were coins. As a member of the volunteer cultural organization Paleontological Archaeological Group of Livorno, he understood that they could be of archaeological importance, so he immediately notified the local archeology office and waited six hours for their archaeologists to arrive. (His dedication continued after the treasure was discovered and valued. Cecio decided to forego the discovery prize of 25% of the value of the find, in this case about 6,250 euros.)
During subsequent excavations, the rest of the coins and the ceramic vessel in which they were buried in the 1st century BC were discovered. The discovery was kept secret while archaeologists cataloged, conserved and examined the treasure. The dates, quantity and consistency of the denomination suggest that this may have been the stash of a Roman legionnaire. The soldiers were paid in silver denarii, and 175 of them would have been the salary of a legionnaire for a year and a half.
The dates of the most recent coins suggest that the hoard was buried during the turbulent era of the Social War (91-88 BC), when Rome’s former Italian allies rebelled against it and the subsequent civil war between the forces of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla (83 -82 BC). It was Gaius Marius in 107 BC. e. was the first to push the conscription into the army. I was considered the head (head account), the lowest class of propertyless Roman citizens in the army. A landless soldier who had saved his pay might well have returned to the village with his stash, planning to buy land or go into business, only to bury it for safekeeping when things got bad.
The treasure and the pot will be on display in a new exhibition at the Museum of Natural History of the Mediterranean in Livorno, which will run until 2 July.