Thieves recovered one from the Celtic-Roman museum in Manching, Upper Bavaria stole a Celtic gold treasure worth millions – in the worst case, gold coins are irretrievably lost. That would be a drama, especially for scientists – because behind those coins there is information about the Celts, a civilization that is still partly a mystery to science. The stolen coins could tell us even more and provide historical information. Bernward Ziegaus, head of the numismatic department of the Archaeological Collection in Munich, is convinced of this.
Historical value of gold coins
The material value of the coins is several million euros. But the value of coins for science is inestimable, as Bernward Ziegaus points out. He has been researching this treasure for three years and sees the theft as a tragic loss. While examining the coins, he managed to find out a lot of detailed information. But research is progressing – and unfortunately, the modern investigations he has already started cannot now be completed.
The treasure has already provided researchers with some insights. For example, that it was not local gold, but that the coins came to Manching from Bohemia. These findings indicate that there were intensive contacts between the rich population of Bohemia and Bavaria. And so the city of Manching had a very special significance in the first century BC. There, quality goods were bought with these coins.
What else could be learned from coins?
With modern research and the use of artificial intelligence based systems, perhaps much more insight could be gained from coins. Ten years ago, when coin processing was completed, this form of research was not possible. If you looked at the hoard again today, you could detail how the coins were minted, for example using 3D scans and image data processing – and also what special techniques were used in the production. In addition, scientific research into lead isotopes could have been used to more precisely narrow down the origin of the metal.
The Secret of Coins
Research has shown that coin gold does not only come from deposits and river gold in Bohemia. There was also evidence that some of the gold had been melted down. From this it could be inferred that the treasure came to Europe from different countries of origin, possibly also from Asia Minor through different lines, and that the gold was processed to be re-melted and re-issued. All these findings could only be obtained through accurate investigation – and this would require a lot of time. But that is no longer possible. No one knows what else the coins would tell us.