A court spokesman for the Frankenthal district in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate told The Local that the man is facing up to three years in prison and/or a substantial financial fine after precious items dating back to the 5th Century AD were spotted up for sale on the Internet.
"If he had just found the treasure and reported it to the local government, he would not have been charged. His troubles started when he dug it up and then claimed the treasure as his own, and that's why we've brought embezzlement charges against him," Hubert Ströber said.
The so-called Barbarians Treasure was initially thought to be worth more than €1 million. The amateur archaeologist, named as Benny C. from Speyer by the Bild newspaper, dug up the hoard after locating it with a metal detector in a forest near the town of Rülzheim. His discovery came to light in February.
The find included solid gold broaches in the shape of leaves, a silver bowl inlaid with precious stones, and a silver folding chair that was damaged in the crudely performed excavation.
It is assumed that the treasure was either buried and forgotten by looting barbarians at the end of the Roman empire or hidden by a Roman from the Teutons. The pieces had not been seen in 1500 years.
In most German states, including Rhineland-Palatinate, finds of this nature are automatically deemed property of the state.