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“The treasure was found in a totally accidental way on August 19, 1937 by the brothers Eusebia and Tomás Roldán on the old road from Valsadornín to Gramedo (Palencia). They materially stumbled over a bronze pot that the water had exposed, spilling some of its contents. With obvious curiosity, despite the bad weather, they stopped to see what it was. They saw a number of coins that they hurried to collect, as well as the vessel that contained them that was partially buried”.
Thus begins the report that the historian Maria Valentina Calleja published in the 70s about the so-called Valsadornín treasure, a pot full of silver and copper coins that until the next january 13 It can be admired in the zero showcase of the National Archaeological Museum (MAN), right at the entrance.
According to experts, it is one of the most important archaeological testimonies of the insecurity that the Roman Empire suffered in the middle decades of the third century. Someone hid or lost the cauldron with their money around the year 270, and its unknown owner was never able to get it back.
Recently, the vessel, still with coins attached, has undergone restoration and various analyzes within the framework of an institutional collaboration between MAN, the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain (IPCE) and the Museum of Palencia, the true owner of the treasure and where it will be exhibited from next year.
The pot still has some 8,000 coins amalgamated inside, but it also contained 2,421 others that were found loose or detached after the discovery. The oldest have been dated to the year 240 and the most modern to 269. Most were minted in Rome and belong to the reign of Gallienus, who ruled with his father from 253 and alone between 260 and 268.
The Valsadornín treasure Helps map power in Roman times. The coins appear with the name of 18 emperors, empresses and their heirs, which put a face to the political instability of the Empire, with ephemeral and usurping leaders that succeed and overlap in Rome, Gaul and the East.
A treasure of 45 kilos
At the time of discovery, the treasure weighed 45 kg and is estimated to have contained in around 15,000 coins, all of them Antoninians. Although now it reminds of a cauldron, the original vessel would be more like a pot, with a narrow mouth, lid and two handles, perhaps to pass some kind of rope or chain to hang.
Between 2016 and 2018 the IPCE addressed its restoration, preserving the closest aspect to the original find and individually intervening only a small number of coins detached from the block.
Various imaging tests and metallic composition: radiographs, microanalysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersion X-ray spectrometry (EDX).
The data are still being analyzed, but according to specialists, they are of great interest to confirm or discard various hypotheses about the Roman coin-making techniques wave variation of the real silver content of the Antoninians.
Source: National Archaeological Museum (MAN)