• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Amateur treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard

DPA/The Local · 19 Feb 2014, 11:18

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.

Story continues below…

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 news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Analysis
How Merkel reacts to crises better than other leaders
Photo: DPA

It is of critical importance for a country how a leader chooses to react to an act of terrorism. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cool head sets an example for the rest of the country.

Turkey demands Germany extradite Gülen supporters
Fethullah Gülen. Photo: DPA

Ankara called on Germany on Thursday to extradite supporters of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup earlier this month.

German police raid 'hotbed of radicalization'
Police entering one of the residences. Photo: DPA

A mosque and eight residences were searched.

Germany boasts Europe's best value beaches
This beach just got named Europe's cheapest. Do you know where it is? Photo: DPA

Forget Mallorca or the Costa del Sol - the best beach bargains can be found in Germany. But where?

After rampages, Merkel says again: Wir schaffen das
Photo: DPA

Speaking for the first time after a Syrian refugee blew himself up in southern Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to helping refugees on Thursday.

The Local List
Germany's five most mind-boggling conspiracy theories
What's the point of this mysterious tower at Tempelhof Airport? Photo: DPA.

Think that wacky paranoid types only exist in the USA? Here’s a few crazy German conspiracies to prove you wrong.

Munich shooting
Gunman's friend arrested for 'planning school attack'
File photo: DPA

Police found chemicals and instructions for making explosives, as well as evacuation plans of his school in the youth's possession.

Bremen mall evacuated due to escaped psychiatric patient
Police outside the mall. Photo: DPA

The man had reportedly made worrying statements relating to Isis and last week's shooting in Munich.

German ambassador to Turkey left out in cold
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

The Turkish government has been giving German ambassador Martin Erdmann the cold shoulder for weeks, after German parliamentarians passed a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Ansbach suicide bomber was interviewed by Bulgarian TV
Photo: DPA

A Syrian who blew himself up outside a German music festival at the weekend was interviewed twice by Bulgarian television while living there in 2013, footage showed on Wednesday.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
11,042
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd