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Badger leads archaeologists to hoard of Roman coins in Spain (cnn.com)
72 points by Petiver 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

Fanjul believes the coins were hidden by refugees sheltering in the area, saying: "We think it's a reflection of the social and political instability which came along with the fall of Rome and the arrival of groups of barbarians to northern Spain."

Quite poignant to think this was someones lifeline, desparately hidden away until things improved. But things didn't improve and they never made it back to recover them. And now here we are 1,600 years later.

Right. I think about that every time they uncache one of these hoardes. Some guy buried his life savings thinking "I'll come back later", and then something intervened and he never even had the chance to tell someone where it was hidden.

Which is worse, burying your money in the ground or keeping it in your PayPal account?

The ground will not spend your money, future civilizations can find it. On the other hand PayPal...

Now think the same of the badger. They dismantled the home he built. Just perspective.

A hundred years from now, after quantum computing has rendered modern cryptography obsolete, archaeologists will be doing the same with bitcoin wallets.

if every private key were calculated and exposed, all value would instantly fall to 0. it would erase and end bitcoin.

"Archaeologists appropriate badger's priceless coin collection". Many of the coins, in the pictured pre-cleaned state are hard to distinguish from rocks, but there's some great samples in there.

I feel for the badger he was showing off his collection not giving it away!

It's fascinating to me that the coins dated all the way from 200 AD to 400 AD. Finding a US cent from even 100 years ago is a surprise and delight these days, and I imagine it's similar throughout the world. But somehow, 1600 years ago, somebody had a hoard of coins that were up to 200 years old.

There is Gresham's law in action there. People would hoard more valuable coins (with higher precious metal content) and use less valuable coins in daily circulation.

Given that metal does not age that much, 200 year old coins in hoards aren't that surprising.


It’s probably more common than you’d think. Among people with lots of coins, 100 year old coins are pretty common!

Until comparatively recently, at scale from 0BCE Gold was exchanged and hoarded. It had specific value, the world was on the gold standard. Coins represented unit value but also inherent value by weight and old coins could be better or worse depending on dilution of the date of minting and so were either valuable because heavy with gold or valuable to cheat because light, and so Gresham's law applied (their use value exceeded their gold value if you can find a fool to take them)

Before decimalisation as a kid I'd handled Georgian pennies and halfpennies in Britain doing shopping, some rare sixpences in circulation were silver and you could get guinea coins at a premium from your bank.

Most people expected late Victorian as normal, young Victorian as less common and anything older as remarkable. So that's 100-150 years of coins in circulation at their nominal face value, under moderate inflation since 1800 with the Napoleonic wars and at least five significant slumps before ww2.

I'm talking 1960s after brettan-woods, and at the same time lire in italy was deflating and we got lollies as change from bus conductors. If Europe hadnt been beset by fire since 1848/1871/1914/1939 I think circulating European currencies would have spanned 2 centuries too like Britain: most of them had postwar currency "reinvention" and I was also handling old and new francs (10:1 exchange equivalency IIRC)

In Switzerland, which escaped those European conflagrations, coins from 1879 remain legal tender.


Fascinating. I bought an assignat as a gift, a relic of belief in fiat from 1789. I did wonder which successor French state would honour it. (Obv. None)

You notice how much more than face value they have in some circumstances. After 1919 if circulating not valuable but even 1969 mint or uncirculated is worth significantly more than face value.

If anyone finds this interesting, Roman coins are very, very accessible (a few dollars a piece) and there are plenty of legit listings for uncleaned coin lots (though most have been picked through for anything precious). Even the silver coins are quite accessible ($20-50 for starter examples).

I’ve wondered about this. I see them for sale on eBay all the time and I always think “no way, something that old can’t be that cheap.”

Totally legit, though vcoins is probably a more reliable site since fakes do exist (modern and contemporary).

The Roman span was enormous and long lived. They also heavily used coinage and had traveling mints. The coinage was eventually debased but there's ~500 years to cover and their "pennies" are everywhere. There's also not too much of a demand for them compared to the amount produced.

Right now US coinage is valuable so we hang onto it but if everyone just tossed their coins tomorrow, there would be plenty for future generations to have a few a piece.

Roman empire was very extensive (comparable to modern EU in size), fairly monetized, spanned centuries, and modern civilization digs a lot in the same places (if only for construction purposes), so the total amount of Roman coins unearthed is huge.

Badgers probably have the same pathing algorithms as foxes.

Anyone who didn't catch the Skyrim reference may enjoy https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-08-19-skyrims-myth-o...

Are you sure it wasn’t a niffler?

My subconscious' instant reaction was to parse the headline as referring to Firefly's Badger and think, "Oh, no! It's probably going to go sideways...."

I sincerely do hope that the badger had a very fine hat.

cant even imagine how exhilarating that must be to find a lost treasure. Im well aware these probably don't have much value but still super cool

I read the title as "Badger leads archeologists to hoard Roman coins". From what I can tell, "scarce money" i.e. the gold standard is a pyramid scheme and it is entirely plausible that the empire expanded its borders simply to acquire more gold/silver as it is so easy to hoard and thereby take out of circulation while simultaneously being needed to pay the soldiers. The pyramid scheme stops as soon as you are unable to conquer more land that is bearing precious metals. You can no longer pay your soldiers and they might turn against you. This is especially bad if you are simultaneously being invaded and your main force is busy fighting a war.

By the way, we aren't enlightened creatures that are beyond this sort of pattern. Urban sprawl is exactly the same thing. Plots of land sit empty for speculation, which forces people to move further away from the center.

There are empty lots, sure, but not that many. Urban sprawl is caused by zoning that prevents high density development.

Uh, no. It’s a byproduct of the ease of transport!

Zoning is a reflection of people not wanting their surroundings to change.

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