• Germany's news in English
 
Amateur treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard
Photo: DPA

Amateur treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard

Published: 19 Feb 2014 11:18 GMT+01:00

The unnamed treasure seeker came across the buried treasure, estimated to be worth more than €1 million, while searching a wooded area in southern Rhineland-Palatinate with a metal detector.

The trove includes a number of leaf-shaped solid gold brooches which are thought to have formed part of the decorations from a coat of high office which once belonged a very important Roman ruler. They date from the late antiquity period - around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Experts say the find could be the largest and most magnificent collection of late antiquity pieces ever found in Germany. It also includes a solid silver bowl set with gold and stones and a set of gold and silver plated statuettes which formed part of a military commander's portable chair. 

CLICK HERE to see the Roman treasures

"The [original] owner lived well," said chief archaeologist Axel von Berg as he presented the find to press on Tuesday evening.

The treasure hunter initially kept his discovery secret and is thought to have sold off part of it on the black market, but it was seized by the authorities when it came to their attention.

"The looter rendered up [the pieces] himself - but only under pressure from investigators," said Ulrich Himmelmann, head of the Speyer branch of the state archaeology authority.

Prosecutors in the west German state are now investigating the case and will attempt to uncover any further missing pieces, said von Berg, without elaborating further on the circumstances or charges against the finder.

Experts say the treasure, some of which appears Eastern European in style, was buried around 1,500 years ago about the time when Germanic Teutons were plundering and pillaging their way through the crumbling Roman empire.

In the chaos, the so-called barbarians were looting valuables from Romans and each other. Either a Roman ruler buried the treasure as they fled the area or it was hidden by a barbarian and never recovered.

Archaeologists say the thousands of amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors are a nuisance and pose a serious danger to historical artifacts.

They often damage or destroy pieces when they dig them up and then attempt to sell them off on the black market and destroy the dig site.

In this case, a silver folding chair was "brutally torn out of the earth and destroyed," said von Berg. The find will soon appear on display to the public in a special exhibition, said Rhineland- Palatinate Culture Minister Doris Ahnen.

In Rhineland-Palatinate searching with a metal detector is a minor offence, but taking the find is a criminal matter under property laws. Not telling authorities about the find can lead to a fraud prosecution, while selling it on can end in a charge for dealing in stolen goods.

READ MORE: Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Stick to the plan': Germany to Greece
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras celebrates the party's election victory on Sunday. Photo: DPA

'Stick to the plan': Germany to Greece

UPDATE:German Chancellor Angela Merkel expects the new Greek government to uphold its commitments to international creditors, her spokesman said Monday after the electoral triumph of Greece's anti-austerity leftists Syriza. READ  

Berlin may house refugees in holiday homes
Monika Herrmann attempts to mediate in a refugee dispute in 2014. Photo: DPA

Berlin may house refugees in holiday homes

Amid rising tensions around the Pegida movement, a Berlin official stirred alarm on Monday with a proposal to commandeer private holiday apartments to house asylum seekers. READ  

Parties welcome Gabriel's Pegida meeting
Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in Dresden on Friday. Photo: DPA

Parties welcome Gabriel's Pegida meeting

Politicians welcomed Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel's controversial decision to meet members of anti-Islam movement Pegida on Friday. READ  

Self-driving cars to hit German Autobahn
Hopefully there won't be any roadworks on the test stretch. Photo: DPA

Self-driving cars to hit German Autobahn

A section of the A9 Autobahn in Bavaria will be converted into a test route for self-driving cars, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Monday. READ  

 Deutsche Bahn wins allies in air cartel suit
Deutsche Bahn's HQ in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Photo: Volker Emersleben/DB

Deutsche Bahn wins allies in air cartel suit

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said Sunday it has been joined by several companies in a 2.9 €billion euro lawsuit against Lufthansa and other airlines for fixing air cargo prices. READ  

Merkel phones Putin over Ukraine violence
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Merkel phones Putin over Ukraine violence

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Sunday to "put pressure" on Ukraine's pro-Kremlin separatists to end a recent upsurge in violence. READ  

New anti-Islam march draws 17,000  people
The Pegida demonstration in Dresden on Sunday. Photo: Arno Burgi/dpa

New anti-Islam march draws 17,000 people

Thousands of people joined a march by the anti-Islamisation PEGIDA movement on Sunday, the group's first rally since threats surfaced against the group and its leader resigned over "Hitler" photos. READ  

Anti-Muslim rallies 'hurt Germany's image'
Police prepare for the demonstration on Sunday on Dresden's Theaterplatz. Photo: Arno Burgi/dpa

Anti-Muslim rallies 'hurt Germany's image'

Hours before a new rally in Dresden by the anti-Islamisation PEGIDA movement on Sunday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the group's sentiments were harming the nation's image. READ  

Germany halts arms exports to Saudis
A German Leopard tank like the ones sold to the Saudis in 2011. Photo: Krauss-Maffei Wegman

Germany halts arms exports to Saudis

Germany has decided to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia because of "instability in the region," German daily Bild reported on Sunday. READ  

ECB bond-buying 'brings risks': Weidmann
JJens Weidmann speaking at Berlin's Hotel Interconti in July. Photo: Soeren Stache/DPA

ECB bond-buying 'brings risks': Weidmann

The head of Germany's central bank on Saturday voiced his "scepticism" about the ECB's decision to launch a trillion-euro bond-buying programme in a bid to ward off deflation and boost the eurozone economy. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,428
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd