Walker steps on 2,150 medieval silver coins in Czech Republic

A woman taking a walk through a field in Kutnohorsk, a city 50 miles southeast of Prague, stumbled on a few silver coins that turned out to be the advance guard of one of the largest early medieval coin hoards ever found in the Czech Republic. She reported the find to heritage authorities and archaeologists were dispatched to scan the field with metal detectors and then excavate the areas of interest. They ultimately unearthed more than 2,150 silver deniers minted by Bohemian rulers King Vratislav II. and princes Břetislav II. and Bořivoje II, between 1085 and 1107.

Archaeologists believe the hoard was buried in the first quarter of the 12th century, a turbulent period characterized by various members of the Přemyslid dynasty, rulers of Bohemia, fighting each other over the ducal throne. Duke of Bohemia Vratislaus II was granted the royal title of King of Bohemia by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV in 1085, but it was not an inherited title and his brothers, nephews and sons squabbled constantly over who got what title. After his death, the throne of Bohemia was a carousel of expulsions, assassinations and competing claims from Přemyslid cousins, brothers and uncles.

The hoard was originally buried in a ceramic container, but over the centuries the vessel was destroyed by plowing. Archaeologists were only able to find the bottom of it, but it is evidence that this fortune in coins was amassed and buried in one deposit, even though the deniers were later scattered.

“The coins were most likely minted in the Prague mint from silver that was imported to Bohemia at the time ,” says Lenka Mazačová, director of the Czech Silver Museum in Kutnohorsk.

The deniers were made from a mint alloy, which, in addition to silver, also contains copper, lead and trace amounts of other metals. Determining this particular composition can also help determine the origin of the silver used.

“Unfortunately, for the turn of 11th-12th century, we lack data on the purchasing power of the contemporary coin. But it was a huge amount, unimaginable for an ordinary person and at the same time unaffordable. It can be compared to winning a million in the jackpot ,” explains Filip Velímský.

Due to the frequent battles for the Prague princely throne, the armies of individual rival princes repeatedly marched through today’s Kutnohorsk Region. Experts do not rule out the possibility that the found depot represents cash for paying wages or war booty.

The coins are now being examined by experts from the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, and the Czech Silver Museum in Kutnohorsk. Each coin will be recorded, cleaned, photographed and assessed for any conservation needs. The coins will also be X-rayed and subjected to spectral analysis to determine their metal composition. Once all the work has been completed and a full catalogue of the hoard created, the hoard will be exhibited to the public in the Czech Silver Museum, hopefully by the summer of 2025.

2 thoughts on “Walker steps on 2,150 medieval silver coins in Czech Republic

  1. “Kutnohorsk” may refer to Kutná Hora 😉️ …and its Silver ores (hora = ‘mountain’), i.e. as far as the “origin of the silver used” may be concerned.

    In 955, the Magyars were successfully warded off, and in 973 at Quedlinburg an Imperial Convention was held, where some sort of deal must have been negotiated with the dukes of the dukes of the Polans and the Bohemians.

    Boleslaus II “the Pious” and the Emperor founded in 973 the Diocese of Prague.

  2. Ibrahim ibn Yaqub, the 10th-century Hispano-Arabic, Sephardi Jewish traveler and probable merchant visited Prague in 965. Of course, that is slightly earlier than those coins seem to be:

    “The city of Prague is built of stone and lime, and it is the largest trading center over there. The Rus and the Slavs come to it from the city of Krakow with goods, and the Mohammedans, Jews and Turks likewise come to it from the lands of the Turks with goods and passable coins and export from them slaves, tin and various furs. Their country is the best of the countries of the north and the richest in livelihood. (…) In the city of Prague they make saddles, bridles and thick shields, which are used in their countries. In Bohemia they also make thin, loosely woven cloth like nets that cannot be used for anything. Their price is stable: 10 cloths for I pfennig. They trade in them and settle accounts with each other. They own whole chests of it. They are their fortune and they buy the most precious things for them: Wheat, slaves, horses, gold, silver and other things.”

    Thus, the coins clearly were progress, in comparison to the “cloth”.

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