November 14, 2008

Hobbyist Discovers Ancient Coins In Cornfield

A man with a metal detector discovered gold and silver when he exposed a significant collection of antique Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.

"It's exciting, like a little boy's dream," Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the amazing discovery was announced to the public.

Archaeologists state that the find of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was first minted around the first century B.C. when the future Roman leader Julius Caesar headed a crusade against Celtic tribes in the surrounding area.

Curfs, who searches the fields as a hobby, said he was simply walking with the detector in the spring and was thinking about going home when he all of a sudden received a loud signal on his earphones and soon found the first coin.

"It was golden and had a little horse on it - I had no idea what I had found," he said.

After putting a photo of the coin on an online forum, someone told him that it was an incredibly extraordinary find. The next day he went back to the cornfield and located yet another coin.

"It looked totally different - silver, and saucer-shaped," he said. Curfs informed the city of his unique find, and he and a few other hobbyists aided the city in finding the rest of the coins.

Nico Roymans, the archaeologist who headed the academic research over the find, supposes the gold coins in the collection were minted by the Eburones tribe that Caesar asserted he eliminated in 53 B.C. after they schemed with other tribes in an assault that killed 6,000 Roman soldiers.

The Eburones "put up strong resistance to Caesar's journeys of conquest," Roymans stated.

The silver coins were minted by a tribe further north, which means that there is possible evidence of cooperation between the tribes to fight against Caesar, he said.

Both types of coins have triple spirals on the front of the coin, an ordinary type of Celtic symbol.

The two other identified accumulations of Eburones coins were found in adjacent Belgium and Germany.

Maastricht city spokeswoman Carla Wetzels announced that the worth of the coins is unknown, but their worth is mainly historical in value. The Belgian cache of comparable size is anticipated to be about 175,000 Euros, or $220,000.

The farmer who owns the cornfield where the coins were discovered arranged to sell his land to the city for an undisclosed amount.

Curfs, a professor at a junior college, owns the 11 coins he personally discovered, but has allowed them to be displayed at the City of Maastricht on a long-term basis. The coins will be displayed at the Centre Ceramique museum in Maastricht starting this weekend.

Curfs considers his metal detector hobby a pensive activity and not an obsession or career choice.

"I have advice for anybody hoping to get rich like this," Curfs said. "Forget it."