'Exceptional' medieval treasure trove unearthed at abbey in France

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'Exceptional' medieval treasure trove unearthed at abbey in France
Photo: Alexis Grattier/University of Lyon II

An "exceptional and rare" medieval treasure trove including more than 2,200 gold and silver coins has been found in France in what has been called a "remarkable" discovery by archaeologists.


It's the kind of discovery archaeologists dream of. 
While investigating an area next to the former Benedictine monastery Cluny Abbey in eastern France, a research group came across a pile of medieval treasure. 
Photo: Alexis Grattier/University of Lyon II
"It's an exceptional and extremely rare treasure," said Anne Flamman from France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
"We understood straight away that it was a unique discovery and I thought how I'd never again see something like it in my life as an archaeologist," one of the students who took part in the dig told Le Point news site.
More than 2,000 silver and gold coins from the 12th century were found buried in the rubble as the archaeologists were digging the ground to try and identify the corner of an infirmary that was once situated at the abbey, said the researchers from University of Lyon II and France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). 
As the team were digging, the coins began tumbling to the ground, they said. 
Signet ring bearing the word "Avete". Photo: Alexis Grattier/University of Lyon II
The medieval loot included 2,200 deniers (or pieces of silver) mostly issued by Cluny Abbey itself as well as 21 gold dinar coins, originally from the Middle East which were stored in a canvas bag. 
The bounty also included a gold signet ring marked with the word "Avete" -- a "word of greeting in a religious context" -- as well as a folded 24-gram gold leaf and gold coin. 
Photo: Alexis Grattier/University of Lyon II
"The overall value of this treasure for the time is estimated between three and eight horses, the equivalent of cars nowadays, but in terms of the running of the abbey it's not that much, amounting to about six days of supply of bread and wine," said specialist Vincent Borrel.
The discovery made in mid-September was only officially announced on Tuesday. 
In the Middle Ages, Cluny Abbey was one of the biggest in Europe and as a result is often the site of archaeological digs. 
This isn't the first time archaeologists in France have had cause for excitement this year. 
In August, The Local reported on the discovery of a 'little Pompeii" found on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Vienne.

Archaeologists uncover 'little Pompeii' in France Photo: AFP




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