Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed more than 3,000 coins and 50 gems, many of which were adorned with images of ancient Roman deities.
The huge find was made during ongoing excavations at Claterna (also spelled Claternae), a Roman city located near present-day Bologna, according to a translated statement of the Italian Ministry of Culture.
“We are facing the largest non-stratified archaeological zone in northern Italy,” Lucia Borgonzoni, the Italian Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Culture said in the statement. “Given the importance and the number of finds discovered so far, we can probably talk about a Pompeii of the north.”
Previously, archaeologists had found in Claterna a forum, streets, a house with multicolored mosaics and some Roman baths. The latest excavations in this “magical place” have unearthed thousands of coins, mainly silver and bronze, according to the statement. While examining the coin, the researchers found one that was particularly notable: a quinarius, a rare silver coin minted in 97 BC by the Roman Republic. Archaeologists discovered it hidden among the remains of a hallway of an ancient theater.
The coin not only helped them confirm that the structure was built near the end of the 1st century BC, but also that Claterna was likely a “trade center” for the ancient Romans and not simply a pilgrimage site, according to the statement.
“It was a commercial center with direct contacts with Rome,” Borgonzoni said.
Archaeologists also unearthed dozens of colorful gems engraved with images of various deities and important structures, including the theater itself.
Excavations at the site will continue, and so far researchers have excavated only one-tenth, or about 44 acres (18 hectares), of the city. The ministry hopes to eventually restore the theater for future use.
“A large part of the site has yet to be discovered,” francesca tombathe superintendent of Bologna stated in the statement.