Arthur Shippee and Pablo Hoffman passed along this article about a hoard of silver coins that may (or may not...) have been part of a ransom to save the city of Paris.
A hoard of silver coins minted in the Carolingian Empire about 1,200 years ago has been unearthed in northeastern Poland and may have been part of a historic ransom to save Paris from a Viking invasion.
It's the first time anyone has found so many Carolingian coins in Poland. Only three such coins — of a distinctive style with Latin inscriptions and a central crucifix — have been found in the country before now.
The Carolingian Empire was founded by the Frankish king Charlemagne — Charles the Great — and spanned much of modern France, Germany, Switzerland and northern Italy in the eighth and ninth centuries.
Archaeologists think the newfound coins may have come from the Viking trading town of Truso, which was then located near the Baltic coast about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of the farmer's field where they were found.
And if the coins did come from Truso, it's possible that they were part of an immense ransom of gold and silver paid by a Carolingian king to prevent invading Vikings from sacking the city of Paris.
"If a larger number of the coins can be attributed to Paris, then yes, it is possible — and some have already been attributed to Paris," said Mateusz Bogucki, an archaeologist and coin expert at the University of Warsaw in Poland. But "it is way too early to give such an interpretation," he told Live Science.
Metal detectorists discovered the first handful of the coin hoard in November 2020, in a field near the town of Biskupiec.
The finders, who had permission from the provincial government for their activities, stopped any further searching and kept the location secret until experts from the nearby Museum of Ostróda could investigate the find.
By March 2021, archaeologist Luke Szczepanski and his team had unearthed a total of 118 coins from the field — 117 of them minted during the reign of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious, who ruled from A.D. 814 until 840, and one coin minted during the reign of his son Charles the Bald, who ruled until A.D. 877.
Such coins are extremely rare in Poland, which was well beyond the lands ruled by the Carolingian dynasty. The only three Carolingian coins previously unearthed were found at the archaeological site at Truso, which had been established by Norse traders by the eighth century and was famous for its trade in amber, furs and slaves.
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Hoard of silver coins may have been part of historic ransom to save Paris
Wayne Homren, Editor
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