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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Roman coins unveiled at museum

LONDON, England -- The first hoard of Roman gold coins to be found in Britain's capital city has been unveiled at the Museum of London.

Archaeologists said the buried treasure was discovered in an excavation site in what was the business district of the ancient Roman city.

The 22 carat coins lay hidden for thousands of years and are the first collection to be found on an archaeological site anywhere in Britain.

The coins, dating from the second century AD, will now go on public display.

Dr Simon Thurley, director of the museum, said: "Never before have we found anything quite like this. We are delighted that such a striking archaeological discovery will be on display at the museum for all to see."

The 43 coins amounted to four years' salary for a Roman soldier and would have been worth the equivalent of 100,000 in today's terms.

He speculated that the owner of the coins may have been a merchant.

A museum spokesman said: "They had been placed in a bag, probably leather, and concealed in a floor safe adjacent to a partition wall within a large family house."

Under the 1996 Treasure Act the find was immediately notified to the City of London coroner. It was then donated to the Museum of London by the owners of the site, The British Land Company.

The site, called Plantation Place, is being redeveloped into an office block and shops.

Joseph Severn, 28, the archaeologist who found the coins last June, said his interest in the subject was sparked by hearing stories about Tutankhamen from his father.

Severn, originally from Oxford, said: "You just do not expect this on an archaeological site. I was merely cleaning an area after removing the remains of the floor of the room when a few of the coins appeared.

"We could see they were gold and that more were present, but first needed to record the context of the find accurately before excavating them."

He added: "At first we thought there might be a dozen, but they kept on coming. This is the find of a lifetime."

Robin Nielsen, project manager, said: "It is entirely possible that there are other treasure-troves waiting to be found."

Hedley Swain, who is involved with the early London history collection at the museum, estimated that the collection of coins was worth, as a historical find, 70,000.

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Museum of London

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