Iberia (present-day Spain, Portugal, and Andorra) was one of the bloodiest conquests achieved by Rome, with statistical studies showing how the Roman Republic (possibly) suffered a reversal in their population growth circa 153-133 BC, during the rigorous period of the Second Celt-Iberian war – with a loss of over 65,000 men. But this human ‘cost’ was coldly countered by the access to strategic ‘riches’, including the mining of precious metals like gold, iron and most importantly silver. Pertaining to this ancient materialistic venture, construction workers have recently (and accidentally) come across a whopping 1,300 lbs of Roman coins when they were conducting routine works on water pipes in southern Spain. And while later analysis has revealed how the coins date from late third and early fourth centuries AD (i.e., four centuries after the complete Roman subjugation of Iberia), these ritzy specimens do allude to the wealth acquired by the ancient Romans in the Spanish territories.
Now coming to the historical scope, the coins, originally found inside 19 Roman amphoras, carry the inscribed stamps of Emperor Maximian and Constantine. However interestingly enough, the coins were probably not in too much circulation, given their lack of wear and tear. So the conjecture can be drawn that they were newly minted circa 3rd century, possibly as a payment measure to the legionaries stationed in Spain. They could have also served as bonuses to Roman officials serving in the Iberian peninsula.
In any case, most of the coins are made of bronze – though some of them were probably draped in silver, as hypothesized by Ana Navarro, head of Seville’s Archaeology Museum. And this brings us to the million dollar question (no pun intended) – what is the worth of the ‘treasure hoard’ comprising these ancient Roman coins? Well, according to Navarro, the figure could easily reach ‘several million euros’. Though she has also mentioned how the historical value of this find is far more crucial than the presumed monetary scope. To that end, the goods new is – local authorities have already sealed off the water pipe works in the area, in a bid to prepare the historical site for an archaeological survey.