Some old coins found by a hiker in Utah have local officials puzzled. This article was located via The Explorator newsletter. -Editor
A hiker in southern Utah has found what appear to be old Spanish coins possibly dating back to the time of the conquistadors and perhaps even
earlier, long before the voyages of Columbus.
The big question the National Park Service is trying to answer is: If they’re real, what are they doing in southern Utah?
"This is very exciting," said park service archaeologist Brian Harmon. "I’ve never seen anything like this in my career."
They’re being kept in Page, Arizona, in the archives of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Museum technician Lisa Riedel carefully
unwrapped them while wearing white gloves.
The two small coins — one about the size of a quarter and the other smaller than a dime — definitely give the appearance of being ancient. They
don’t appear to be gold; they are slightly greenish in color, suggesting the presence of copper.
"They're very thin," Riedel said. "We're guessing one is probably silver and one is maybe copper."
According to Harmon, the coins were found in a popular tourist area that has at times been underwater in the decades after the Glen Canyon Dam was
built in the 1960s.
"So what we're doing," Harmon said, "is reaching out to experts in old Spanish coins to learn, are these authentic? How old are
If they are authentic, that would deepen the mystery: It’s a real puzzler to contemplate how old Spanish coins got to Utah and how they fit into
the known history of European exploration.
Maybe I'm missing something, but as a numismatist it's no mystery that Spanish coins circulated throughout North America well into the mid
1800s. Trading for their size and silver content, they stayed in circulation long after they were originally minted. It would be fun to attribute
them, but it wouldn't prove anything new about local history. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Ancient mystery or a
hoax? Archaeologists investigate rare find at Lake Powell
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