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Thousands of ancient coins found off Sardinia

ROME (AP) – A diver who spotted something metallic not far from Sardinia’s coast has led to the discovery of tens of thousands of ancient bronze coins.

Italy’s Culture Ministry said on Saturday that the diver alerted authorities, who sent divers assigned to an art protection squad along with others from the ministry’s undersea archaeology department.

The coins dating from the first half of the fourth century were found in sea grass, not far from the northeast shore of the Mediterranean island. The ministry didn’t say exactly when the first diver caught a glimpse of something metallic just off shore Sardinia, not far from the town of Arzachena.

Exactly how many coins have been retrieved hasn’t been determined yet, as they are being sorted. A ministry statement estimated that there are at least about 30,000 and possibly as many as 50,000, given their collective weight.

“All the coins were in an excellent and rare state of preservation,” the ministry said. The few coins that were damaged still had legible inscriptions, it said.

“The treasure found in the waters off Arzachena represent one of the most important coin discoveries in recent years,” said Sardinian archaeology department official Luigi La Rocca.

Some of the discovered ancient bronze coins. PHOTO: ITALIAN CULTURE MINISTRY
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