GRADO – A hungry badger made an ‘exceptional find’ in a cave in northern Spain. The find of the animal was discovered just metres from a badger den in the northern region of Asturias. The badger most likely confused what he found with food.
In its diligent search, the animal may not have discovered food, but it did discover a treasure of 209 Roman coins. Researchers call the find ‘exceptional’. Because of the location near the burrow, they assume that the badger discovered the coins during his food search.
Coins instead of berries or worms
The coins, dating from the third to fifth centuries AD, were discovered in a cave in the municipality of Grado in the northern Spanish region of Asturias. The badger stumbled upon the spectacular coin collection months after Storm Filomena blanketed large parts of Spain with a thick layer of snow. Researchers believe the bad conditions forced the badger to ramp up its food search efforts.
In this quest, he came to a small crevice near his lair in which he hoped to find berries or worms. Instead, the animal stumbled upon the stock of ancient Roman coins. They were forged in faraway places like Constantinople and Thessaloniki, archaeologist Alfonso Fanjul Peraza told the newspaper El País.
Largest treasure trove of Roman coins in the region
Most coins are made of copper and bronze. The largest weighs more than eight grams and contains 4% silver. “To date, this is the largest treasure trove of Roman coins ever found in a cave in northern Spain,” the researchers said in a recently published report.
It’s not the first time archaeologists have stumbled upon treasures in the dense forests of Grado; about 85 years ago, 14 gold coins dating back to the reign of Constantine were found in the area.
Hasty hiding place
The fact that several important archaeological finds have been made in this area could be the result of the fierce battle that took place in this former border area, Fanjul Pereza said. The Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula in 218 BC. They ruled it until they were expelled by the Visigoths in the early fifth century. Researchers speculate that the latest hoard of coins was probably part of a larger collection. Presumably, it was hastily hidden in hopes of keeping them safe during a period of political and social instability.
Hope for further discoveries in the area
The discovery of the coins now marks the first phase of a new project. The researchers are scheduled to return to the area for further excavations, Fanjul told reporters earlier this year. “We want to know if this is a one-time shelter or if a settlement existed.”