05 December 2023
A large deposit of follis dating back to the first half of the 4th century AD has been discovered in the sea off the north-eastern coast of Sardinia. Based on weight, it has been estimated that around 30,000 and 50,000 specimens of the bronze coin have been found.
The discovery was initially made by a member of the public, who found some metallic remains while on a dive.
The following day, further investigations by official bodies, such as the Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Sassari and Nuoro, revealed two main areas of dispersion of the coins. The area in which they were recovered was found to be an ideal location to preserve the remains of a wreck.
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All the coins found are in an exceptional state of conservation, with only four pieces damaged, although these are still legible. The coins date between AD 324 and AD 340, with the absence of centenionales, which were minted from AD 346, helping to date the find. Almost all the mints of the empire active in that period are represented in the recovered coins, apart from Antioch, Alexandria and Carthage.
According to Luigi La Rocca, director general of archaeology for the region:
‘The treasure found in the waters of Arzachena represents one of the most important discoveries of numismatic finds in recent years and highlights once again the richness and importance of the archaeological heritage that the depths of our seas, crossed by men and goods since the most ancient times, still guards and conserves.
'An extraordinary but also very fragile heritage, constantly threatened by natural phenomena and human action, for the protection of which the ministry, through the action of its central and peripheral structures, has developed extraordinary recovery and conservation methodologies and techniques, whose effectiveness is implemented through innovative valorisation strategies.’