I’m sure by now many of you have heard the news about the 52,000 coin hoard found in Britain by using a metal detector. For my part, I’d like to thank Patrick Callahan of Fordham for drawing the story to my attention. A rather thorough article on the find can be found here. Like many who are discussing this story, I want to draw attention to the integrity of Dave Crisp, who when he realized as he dug that he had found a substantial find, reported it to the authorities. The hoard was then able to be excavated by professionals who may consequently be able to learn much about the little-understood 3rd c. AD in Britain, when Carausius usurped power and began to mint coins under his name at the London mint. He was quite busy at this during his 7 years in power, as you can see by browsing his page at Wildwinds.com.
Debates flair up occasionally but passionately about whether coins ought to be included in trade and sale bans, as in the Cypriot ban of 2007, discussed by me here. Soon after the ban, several coin collecting organizations sued the State Department for details about the decision. This New York Times article says of the ban, “It was the first time the government had barred trade in a broad category of ancient coins, and collectors and dealers were surprised. Archaeologists, who often use coins to help them date finds, supported that ban on the grounds that treasure hunters using metal detectors to search for coins frequently damage significant sites.” Mr. Crisp proves that “treasure hunters using metal detectors” can be a valuable ally for archaeological discovery, provided that they report their finds appropriately. Articles on the the story all suggest that he will be rewarded financially for his discovery, splitting the reward with the owner of the land on which the coins were found. This is an incentive for those who may think they would only profit from a similar discovery through private sale (as on eBay, where a quick search turns up many ancient coins claimed to be from British hoards). Along with his financial gain (and even without it), Dave Crisp has a small place in the annals of archaeological discovery, which is pretty cool in its own right.
UPDATE: Thanks to Classicists on Twitter, I can now link to some more great information on the hoard. Constantina Katsari (c_katsari) linked to this great article on the hoard, with details about the excavation and the coins found therein, and this link includes tons of pictures. Terrence Lockyer (TLockyer) tweeted this BBC interview video on the hoard. While I’m on the subject of twitter, the Campvs’s own Dennis is on Twitter (dmmch), and his tweets include links to new blog posts.