Hoard of silver and gold coins unearthed in central Hungary
An attack by the Ottoman Army in the 16th century may have caused panicked Hungarians to bury a stash of precious silver and gold coins. Today, on a modern-day farm in Hungary, archaeologists have discovered this buried treasure.
In 2019, archaeologists discovered 150 ancient coins in Újlengyel, a Hungarian village that’s about 31 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Budapest.
Spurred by this discovery and equipped with metal detectors, the archaeologists returned to the site at the end of December 2020 to look for other treasures, according to a Facebook post from the Ferenczy Museum in Hungary.
Balázs Nagy, the museum’s numismatist, or coin expert, led the two-day expedition, with help from volunteers with the Community Archaeological Association.
On a nearby hill, the archaeologists dug through a small shaft and unearthed a vessel that was broken in half, likely due to plowing, according to a statement. The vessel had originally held thousands of ancient coins that were found strewn about the shaft.
The newly discovered coin collection consisted of nearly 7,000 silver coins and four gold coins, according to the post.
At the time the coins were probably buried, around 1520, they would have been worth enough to buy seven horses; and by today’s standards, they would be enough to buy a luxury car, according to the post.
The oldest coin is a silver denarius, or a Roman silver coin of Roman emperor Lucius Verus, who ruled from A.D.161 to A.D. 169. The newest coins in the hoard date to the time of Louis II, who ruled Hungary and Bohemia from 1516 to 1526.
The four gold coins, which were issued during the reign of Matthias I, the king of Hungary from 1458 to 1490, were hidden under a piece of fabric in the lining of the vessel, according to the statement.
Other finds included a rare coin issued by Pope Pius who ruled from 1458 to 1464 and silver coins issued during the reigns of several other 15th and 16th century rulers.
It’s unknown why people buried these coins, but the archaeologists hypothesize that Hungarians may have buried them during an attack from the Ottoman Empire in 1526.
“Treasures of this magnitude related to the Turkish devastation following the battle of Mohács are rare in Hungary,” according to a Facebook post.
(The Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, defeated Hungary and its allies in the Battle of Mohács on Aug. 29, 1526; this battle marked the end of the Hungarian monarchy and opened the way for Turkish and Habsburg rule of the region, according to Britannica.)
The museum is planning to continue to explore this site in search of other historical treasures.
Deformed ‘alien’ skulls offer clues about life during the Roman Empire’s collapse
The multicultural change between local residents and migrant Romans is documented by researchers studying deformed skulls from an old cemetery in Hungary.
Mönzs-Icsei dülő cemetery, founded in 430 AD and abandoned in 470 AD, in the settlement of Mözs near Szekszárd in the Pannonia region of present-day Hungary, was created in the late Roman period at the beginnings of Europe’s Migration Period when the barbarian Huns invaded Central Europe forcing the Romans to abandon their Pannonian provinces and retreat from modern-day Western Hungary.
The site was recently excavated by a new study integrating experimental isotope analysis and biological anthropology, which determine that seeking refuge from the Huns, new foreign groups arrived in Pannonia and integrated with the remaining local Romanized population.
These migrant waves sparked a period of rapid-onset, and chaotic cultural transitions, and the deformed skeletons recovered from Mözs-Icsei dülő cemetery held important clues about life and death during this turbulent time.
The new paper was published April 29, 2020, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dr. Corina Knipper from the Curt-Engelhorn-Center for Archaeometry, Germany, István Koncz, Tivadar Vida from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, and colleagues.
The authors first conducted an archaeological survey of the 5th-century cemetery, and then they combined isotope analysis with biological anthropology to interpret the burials.
What the pair of researchers found was a “remarkably diverse” ancient community consisting of two or three generations (96 burials total) of three distinctly different cultural groups.
The first was the founding, or local, group who were buried in brick-lined Roman-style graves, the second group comprised of 12 foreigners who arrived about a decade after the founders, and the third were a later culture, who blended Roman and various foreign traditions.
The researchers think that the second group of 12 foreigners most probably established the ritual burial tradition of burying the deceased with elaborate grave goods, and also the practice of “cranial deformation,” which was found in 51 skeletons of adult males, females, and children.
Artificial cranial deformation, or modification, is commonly called head flattening, or head binding. This ancient form of body alteration in which a human child’s skull is deformed with blocks of wood bound to the skull under a constant force, was practiced on every continent of the prehistoric world.
However, Mözs-Icsei dülő cemetery represents one of the largest concentrations of this ancient aesthetic cultural phenomenon in the region; a practice that was generally reserved for societal elites.
Buckle in, it’s time for the science bit: according to researcher Doug Dvoracek from the Centre of Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia , who was not involved in the new study, strontium isotopic ratios are widely used as indicators of provenance, residential origins and migration patterns of ancestral humans, in an archaeological context, where it provides “links to the land where food was grown or grazed.”
The two researchers’ data showed the strontium isotope ratios measured on skeletons at the Mözs-Icsei dülő cemetery were “significantly more variable” than the prehistoric burials and animal remains excavated at other archaeological sites in the same geographic region in the Carpathian Basin.
In conclusion, the scientists say their isotopic analysis indicates most of Mözs’ adult population had lived elsewhere during their childhood and had migrated to Pannonia as teens and adults.
Moreover, carbon and nitrogen isotope data attest to what the scientists say were “remarkable contributions of millet” in the human diet.
Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses that were grown as cereal crops or grains for human food and fodder.
What ancient cultures who grew millets observed, but didn’t know why they had stronger bones, bigger muscles, tougher warriors and fitter farmers, because not only is millet gluten-free, but it also has high levels of protein, fiber, and antioxidants contents.
In the 5th century, the forested mountain ranges and resource-rich agricultural plains of what is today Hungary made this region a choice destination for fleeing Romans and other asylum seekers and refugees displaced by expanding Germanic armies.
And while archaeological and anthropological research in Hungary will continue, for now, the researchers have established that after the decline of the Roman Empire at least one community briefly emerged in Pannonia comprising local and Roman incomers who not only shared the same geographical space, but they blended and infused their burial rituals and traditions into a new multicultural system of internment.