Silver coins testify to ancient global trade reaching northern Germany

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Silver coins testify to ancient global trade reaching northern Germany
Photo: DPA

Archaeologists have unearthed silver artefacts in a northern German field which show that global trade was reaching even the North Sea coast more than 1,200 years ago.


The find – 82 silver coins and coin fragments, as well as a silver bracelet and three silver bars – is said to be one of the most significant from the early Middle Ages in the southern North Sea area.

Archaeologists working in a field near Anklam in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania found the collection at the end of August, and have now successfully dated the pieces.

“Coins from this time are extremely rare, and to find them in such numbers is really significant,” said archaeologist Michael Schirren, from the state office for culture and memorials.

The oldest coins date back to around 610, the newest to around 820, he said, and are thought to have been made in northern Africa, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan. They would have reached the northern German coastal region via eastern Europe, along the Black Sea and other trade routes.

They were found near the known remains of a Slavic settlement area, adding to evidence that the area along the River Peene was booming at the time – it is near the Viking settlement of Menzlin which was an important strategic spot, and a trading post between east and west.

The coins would have lost their monetary value so far from their place of origin, but would have been used to trade as pieces of silver, and even have been in some cases cut into pieces. It is estimated that the 200 grams of silver in the coins would have been traded for four oxen or even a human slave.



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