English Hobbyists with Metal Detectors Discover Roman Coin Hoard in Farmer's Field

 Royal Institution of Cornwall. Photo taken by Anna Tyacke, Cornwall Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum
Royal Institution of Cornwall. Photo taken by Anna Tyacke, Cornwall Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum

Two men in Cornwall, England, graduated from metal detector hobbyists to bona fide treasure hunters when they discovered a stash of nearly 2000 Roman coins buried in a farmer’s freshly plowed field.

As Cornwall Live reports, Kyle Neil, 18, and Darren Troon, 45, used their electronic instruments to locate a stone-lined pit stuffed with ancient currency. "We just kept getting a signal," Troon told the news site. "We rolled back the earth, and four or five inches down we were looking at bunch of coins. They were dirty, but you could clearly see a lot of them looked like the day they were cast. We were buzzing with excitement."

Parts of a tin container that held Roman coins found in Cornwall, England
The coins had been buried in a tin container with a handle.
Copyright of Royal Institution of Cornwall. Picture taken by Anna Tyacke, Cornwall Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum

Coins from a Roman treasure stash discovered by metal detector hobbyists in Cornwall, England
Copyright of Royal Institution of Cornwall. Picture taken by Anna Tyacke, Cornwall Finds Liaison Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum

The currency, which dates from 253 CE to 274 CE, consists of bronze and a small amount of silver. Engravings depict Roman emperors Gallienus, Claudius II, Victorinus, and Tetricus I, among others. Some coins, however, were too badly corroded or worn to identify their markings. The remains of a tin container—which may have once stored the treasure—were also discovered. Coin hoards are typically stored in pottery, making this particular burial detail unusual.

"This is a typical hoard of Gallic emperors who broke away from central Roman rule and took charge of Britain in the late 3rd century CE," Anna Tyacke, a finds liaison officer at the Royal Cornwall Museum, tells Mental Floss. "We find a lot of them in Cornwall because the tin trade increased in that century when the Romans had run out of mining tin in their province of Spain or Iberia."

The British Museum is currently valuing the hoard, and the Royal Institution of Cornwall, which runs Royal Cornwall Museum, is interested in purchasing it through the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

As for Troon and Neil, they're still in awe over their find. "It was a day I don’t think we’ll ever forget," Troon told Cornwall Live. "It took us a couple of days just to calm down. It's amazing to think they've been down there just waiting to be found, and there's lot more to find out there."

[h/t Archaeology]

Advanced CT Scans Reveal Blood Vessels and Skin Layers in a Mummy's Hand

Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Mummies hold some intriguing secrets to their pasts, like the food they ate and the diseases they had when they were alive. Now scientists are using a tool originally designed for medicine to get an even deeper look at the clues mummified bodies carry with them into the present day, Gizmodo reports.

In a proof-of-concept study published in the journal Radiology, researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden detail how a new-and-improved CT scanning technique can be used to visualize the interior of mummies on a microscopic level. By creating detailed X-ray images, CT scans allow doctors to see inside their patients without invasive surgery. Archaeologists have been using this technology to study delicate ancient artifacts for years, but the level of detail that can be achieved this way—especially when it comes to looking at interior soft tissue—is limited.

The upgraded version of the tech, called phase-contrast CT scanning, measures the phase shift, or the change in the position of a light wave, that occurs when X-rays pass through solid objects. The images generated this way have a higher contrast level than conventional X-rays, which means they capture more detail.

Cross-section of mummy hand.
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Doctors have been using this 10-year-old technology to examine soft tissues like organs and veins in living patients, but it hadn't been used on a mummy until recently. Working with a mummified human right hand dating back to 400 BCE in Egypt, which they borrowed from the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, the researchers fired up a phase-contrast CT scanner. It produced images with a resolution of 6 to 9 microns, giving a clear picture of the different layers of skin, individual cells in the connective tissue, and the blood vessels in the nail bed—all without damaging the artifact. Previously, researchers looking to study these same tissues in mummies would have needed to use a scalpel.

As Ars Technica reports, a phase-contrast CT scanner is similar in cost to the conventional machine. The study authors hope their work will lead to phase-contrast CT scanning becoming just as common in archaeology as regular CT scanning, potentially creating new research opportunities in mummies that will be discovered in the future and even in artifacts that have already been examined.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A 2.63-Carat Diamond Was Unearthed by a Grandmother at an Arkansas State Park

iStock
iStock

Visitors to the Crater of Diamonds Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas clearly have an objective in mind: Excavate one of the diamonds lurking on or beneath the park's soil, the onetime site of a volcanic crater. If they do, it's theirs to keep.

Earlier this month, a 71-year-old grandmother from Colorado made the biggest discovery on park grounds of 2018: a 2.63-carat ice white diamond. And she did it in about 10 minutes.

The retiree, who asked media outlets not to identify her by name, visited Crater of Diamonds with her husband, son, and grandchildren. After briefly scraping away dirt, she saw the gem on the surface. The diamond was so large and clear—roughly the size of a pinto bean—that she assumed it was just a piece of glass. Further inspection by her family and park personnel revealed it was a diamond.

Park officials told press that employees frequently till the soil, which can loosen the gems and allow them to catch the reflection of the sun, making them easier to spot. Roughly 33,000 diamonds have been found by visitors since the park opened in 1972.

It's hard to know the exact value of the diamond. While there is a certain fluctuating value assigned to a carat, appraisers also look at three other "Cs": clarity, color, and cut. A two-carat diamond is often more than double the price of a one-carat diamond because the larger gems are more rare. But tourists have profited from their finds: In 2015, a visitor retrieved a 8.51-carat white diamond that was cut down to 4.6 carats by a jeweler and valued by the American Gem Society at $500,000.

[h/t WGN TV]

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