1,500-Year-Old Coin Stash Leaves Archaeologists with Mystery

A hoard of about 119 coins, together with an iron lock that may have sealed them within a container, have been found inside a collapsed building in the harbor of the ancient city of Corinth in Greece.

The discovery leaves archaeologists with a mystery: Why didn’t anyone come to retrieve the stash after the building collapsed?

“That is an excellent question and one that has been troubling us,” said Paul Scotton, a professor of classics at California State University Long Beach who leads excavations for the Lechaion Harbor and Settlement Land Project. “The coins were found circa 30-40 centimeters [12 to 16 inches] below modern ground level under the collapsed tile roof. With it having been so close to the surface, why someone didn’t return for it is a puzzle. Either the owner could not or did not want to retrieve it. Exactly why that would be is only conjecture,” Scotton said. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Corinth flourishedfor millennia in ancient and medieval times, and today a city named after Corinth is located not far from the ruins of the ancient site. Lechaion is the harbor area of Corinth.

The coins, many of which are made of bronze, were discovered in excavations carried out in 2016 and 2017; some of the coins still need to be cleaned. No human remains were found with the coins, archaeologists said.

One of the coins found in the hoard shows a cross within a wreath. It was minted sometime between A.D. 425-450.