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A rare gold medallion or 'multiple solidus' (or aureus) of Claudius Gothicus. 268 AD. Equivalent to 8 regular gold solidi. Part of the Lava treasure. 38.83 grams. Museo Arqueológico Nacional de España
Aureus of Gallienus, similar to the numerous examples found in Lava

The Lava Treasure is the Roman treasure of coins and the gold plate that was discovered underwater in the small Gulf of Lava (part of the Gulf of Ajaccio [fr]), southern Corsica, France, probably in 1958. Also known as the “Corsica hoard”, or “Mediterranean Sea hoard”. It is considered as one of world’s most important archaeological finds, and presents a unique testimony for our knowledge of Roman imperial coinage.

The discovery was made in the commune of Alata, Corse-du-Sud.

Contents

DescriptionEdit

The find was never officially declared. Part of it was discovered by two brothers who were diving in the waters searching for sea urchins. Instead they came up with several gold coins that they cleaned and then sold illegally. Under the French law, all underwater archaeological finds belong to the state.

At this time, the treasure is dispersed in many private and public collections.

The gold coins found cover the period from the A.D. 262 Decennalia of Gallienus to the reign of Aurelian in A.D. 272.

Altogether, about 1,400 coins were apparently found near Lava; of these, 450 have now been identified.[1]

Two-thirds of the coins belong to the Aurelian strikes.[2]

Also, a large number of Claudius Gothicus coins have been found.

Archaeologists believe that the gold was on a galley carrying an important official that sank after a fire on board, as it sailed along this coast. This would have happened soon after the coins were minted. But the wreck, itself, was never located. Apparently some underwater geological disturbances or rockslides happened in this area since the 3rd century.

There's some evidence that the most expensive piece of the hoard - a large golden statue of a youth -- has been found but, tragically, later it was melted down by the illegal excavators for its gold value.

In total, the value of this treasure would be estimated at several tens of millions of euros, even not counting the statue. Some of the coins have been valued at € 250,000 each.

History of discoveryEdit

Mysteriously, 41 first pieces of gold, aurei and 'multiples', appeared on the market in 1956.

A big group of coins from Lava was seized by the French justice on the coin market in 1986.

Three Corsican divers, Felix Biancamaria, his brother Angel, and their friend Marc Cotoni were involved in these finds, and were convicted in 1994 in court for illegal antiquity trade.[3]

In 2010, a valuable Roman golden vessel belonging to ‘Lava Treasure’ was recovered by police.[4][5]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Sylvianne Estiot, The Lava Treasure of Roman Gold. Also in Trésors monétaires, volume XXIV, BNF, 2011 ISBN 9782717724929
  2. ^ Sylvianne Estiot, The Lava Treasure of Roman Gold. Also in Trésors monétaires, volume XXIV, BNF, 2011 ISBN 9782717724929
  3. ^ Bits of the ‘Lava Treasure’ Recovered by French Police. October 30, 2010 / David Meadows ~ rogueclassicist
  4. ^ Bits of the ‘Lava Treasure’ Recovered by French Police. October 30, 2010 / David Meadows ~ rogueclassicist
  5. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in French) Monnaies d’or et trafic d’armes: le légendaire trésor corse de Lava resurgit. 2017 (photo of the vessel)

LiteratureEdit

  • Félix Biancamaria, «Le Trésor de Lava», La fièvre de l'or romain chez les plongeurs corses, Albin Michel, 2004
  • Aurélie Fredy, « Le Trésor des Biancamaria », Quand la pêche aux oursins tourne à la pêche miraculeuse, Elan Sud, 2016.
  • Sylvianne Estiot, The Lava Treasure of Roman Gold. Also in Trésors monétaires, volume XXIV, BNF, 2011 ISBN 9782717724929