Thousands of ancient coins found in sea grass off the coast of Sardinia


A diver off the coast of Sardinia spotted shiny metal under sea grass in the Mediterranean waters. The diver alerted authorities to the discovery of tens of thousands of bronze coins that could be the result of a shipwreck.

Authorities, including art, firefighter and police divers cooperated in the retrieval of the rare coins. Additionally, an art protection squad and others from Italy’s Ministry of Culture, located in Rome, were sent to acquire the coins, according to AP News.

The stunning blue beaches of Sardinia are popular for tourists visiting the Mediterranean Sea. A ferry ride from Italy to the coast of Sardinia is between 5–8 hours, determined by speed.

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There are three variables in the U.S. that dictate worth of a coin, but it’s unclear if they are the same for Italian coins. (iStock)

At least one million tourists from Italy, various parts of Europe and America flood the Italian island each year. It’s a wonder no one has previously noticed the heaping pile of ancient coins in advance of Saturday.

Sardinia’s authorities, however, are severe regarding the protection of the island and beaches. In 2020, authorities caught and fined a French tourist $1,200 for stealing about four-and-a-half pounds of sand from a pristine Sardinia beach.

The sand is labeled as a protected resource, making it illegal to remove any from the island. The sand is federally protected since 2017 and stealing it could result in not only fines, but several years of jail time.

The coins found were dated from the first half of the fourth century, according to AP News. It is presently unknown exactly how many coins have been collected from the area, though it’s estimated there could be nearly 50,000 based on their weight. It is also currently unknown how much the lot of coins are worth.

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In a video posted on the American Numismatic Association website from 2017, Rod Gillis, education director at the organization, explains there are three important variables that factor into the worth of a coin in the United States.

The first is mintage number.

The U.S. Mint makes new coins each year, but despite what some might think, they do not produce the same number of coins annually. Some years, the Mint will make many coins, nearly 28 billion to be exact, while other years they will produce many fewer – by a wide margin. In those years when fewer coins are made, the product is estimated to be worth more in the future.

The second variable is grade or condition. Gillis explained that a higher grade coin with a higher state of preservation will be worth more.

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Rome, Italy in the day time

The Ministry of Culture is located in Rome, Italy. The ministry sent many divers to Sardinia to retrieve the coins found off the coast. (iStock)

Per a statement made by Italy’s Ministry of Culture, the coins “were in an excellent and rare state of preservation.”

The final variable is demand. Some coins are simply in higher demand than others, which, like anything else, drives up the price. How old a coin is has very little to do with its inevitable worth in the U.S.

Though the modern day Mint in Italy transmutes variables, they’re likely interchangable to those of the U.S. Mint. And while the coins found off the coast of Sardinia are regarded as ancient, only time will tell their worth.

However, Luigi La Rocca, a Sardinian archeology department official, said in a statememt, “The treasure found in the waters off Arzachena represent one of the most important coin discoveries.”

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He added, that the find is “further evidence of the richness and importance of the archaeological heritage that the seabed of our seas, crossed by men and goods from the most ancient of epochs, still keep and preserve.”

AP News contributed to this report.



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