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]

The Fossil of a Human-Sized Penguin Has Been Unearthed in New Zealand

DurkTalsma/iStock via Getty Images
DurkTalsma/iStock via Getty Images

Penguins are known for looking cute and cuddly, but if the monster penguins of the Paleocene epoch were still around today, they might have developed a different reputation. As The Guardian reports, the fossil of a new species of one of these giant prehistoric penguins was recently discovered in New Zealand, and scientists say it would have gone head-to-head with many adult humans.

The bird, dubbed Crossvallia waiparensis, stood about 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds. For comparison, emperor penguins weigh up to 88 pounds and can reach 3 feet 8 inches in height. The prehistoric bird waddled the Earth some time between 66 and 56 million years ago—shortly after the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs and marine reptiles, which were probably its main predators.

An amateur paleontologist named Leigh Love discovered the creature's fossilized leg bones on New Zealand's South Island. From those fossils alone, a team of scientists from the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand and the Senckenberg natural history museum in Germany were able to estimate the penguin's height and weight and determine that it belonged to a previously undiscovered species. The large leg bones also indicate that the animal was more reliant on its feet for paddling through the water than the penguins of today.

Crossvallia waiparensis is massive by today's penguin standards, but it's not even the largest prehistoric penguin that we know of. When carnivorous reptiles began disappearing from the world's oceans, the waters opened up for new predators like penguins to flourish. Kumimanu biceae is estimated to have weighed about 223 pounds; Palaeeudyptes klekowskii may have weighed 253 pounds and stretched 6 feet 5 inches long.

[h/t The Guardian]

Scientists Are Creating a 3D Model of an 18th-Century ‘Vampire Witch’ Who Was Tortured to Death

Tonkovic/iStock via Getty Images
Tonkovic/iStock via Getty Images

In 2014, archaeologists uncovered a skeleton in Kamień Pomorski, Poland, with a brick wedged in its mouth and stakes driven through its legs. They believed the man was put to death in the 18th century because townspeople thought he was a vampire.

Now, genetic and forensic analysis has shown that the vampire burial site didn't contain a man at all: It was a 5-foot-6-inch, blue-eyed, blonde woman who was at least 65 years old when she died. Newsweek reports that scientists at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland are now making a 3D computer model of the woman’s skull, which they plan to use to recreate what her face looked like.

The Forensics Genetics Unit at the university will then build her face on a physical model from layers of plastic material and reveal it to the public within the next few months. Andrzej Ossowski, the head of the unit, told the website Science in Poland that he hopes a museum might display the rendering. “We want to show that with the help of modern methods, we are able to replace skeletons that are very common in museums with 3D models based on research,” he said.

He said that townspeople may have killed the woman because they thought she was a witch, and they gave her an “anti-vampiric” burial to prevent her from rising from her grave à la Nosferatu. The brick in her mouth was meant to weigh her down—in other burials a sickle might have been placed across the neck of the body, which would slit the revenant's throat should it try to rise.

We often think of Salem when it comes to witch trials, but they were common throughout Europe before the 19th century, and archaeologists have discovered “anti-vampiric” graves in Poland, Bulgaria, and Italy. Wondering if you might have qualified as a witch during the 17th-century period of Puritan paranoia? Find out here.

[h/t Newsweek]

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