Coins found in Poland may have been bribed to prevent the Vikings from looting Paris more than 1,200 years ago
In March, a hoard of 118 silver coins was unearthed in a forest in northeastern Poland, which experts believe were part of an ancient bribe.
The coins, minted in the 9th century during the Carolingian Empire, are the largest number of their kind ever found in Poland.
Experts believe the treasure may have been part of a bribe to protect Paris from looting by Vikings more than a thousand years ago.
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In March, more than 100 silver coins from the Carolingian Empire were found in a forest in northeastern Poland. The more than 1,200-year-old coins may have been part of bribes to prevent the Vikings from looting Paris
In November 2020, metal detector enthusiasts discovered a handful of silver denarius, or Roman-style coins, in a field near Biskupiec, a town in northeastern Poland about 120 miles from Warsaw.
They notified researchers from the nearby Museum of Ostróda, and in March 2021 archaeologists returned to the field to investigate.
They discovered a total of 118 coins, all but one dating from the reign of the Carolingian Emperor Louis the Pious, who reigned from AD 814 to 840.
The remaining silver piece was minted during the brief reign of his son Charles the Bald, who reigned from 875 to 877.
According to experts, it is extremely rare for Carolingian money to be found in northeastern Poland, which was far beyond the borders of the empire.
They all had the distinctive markings of the Carolingian dynasty, with a cross and Latin inscriptions.
Charlemagne, a Frankish leader, founded the Carolingian Empire in AD 800, and during the early Middle Ages, he and his descendants united much of western and central Europe after the fall of Rome.
But finding Carolingian species in Poland is highly unusual, as the region was far beyond the empire’s borders.
Only three Carolingian coins have been previously unearthed in northern Poland, at an archaeological site in Truso, about 100 kilometers west of Biskupiec.
Researchers theorize that the coins came from Truso, a Norwegian trading post about 60 miles from where the coins were found
The researchers believe this newfound treasure also came from Truso, which was a Norwegian trading center in the 800s.
They theorize that the money was part of a huge bribe paid by Charles the Bald to stop the Normans from invading Paris, the capital of the Carolingian Empire.
Mateusz Bogucki, an archaeologist and numismatist at the University of Warsaw, said: Live Science that it is too early to know for sure, but some coins can be traced back to Paris.
It is also possible that the coins were left as a ‘drop’ in the uninhabited area for Vikings from Truso to retrieve them
“If a greater number of coins can be attributed to Paris, then it is possible,” Bogucki told the press.
If the coins were not used to buy off the Vikings, their presence is a mystery: Biskupiec was uninhabited at the time, and Prussian tribes in the region used Arabic coins.
Charlemagne paid 7,000 livres, or more than five tons of silver and gold, to the Vikings so they wouldn’t loot Paris, Bogucki told Live Science, and it’s possible the coins found at Biskupiec were part of that ransom. .
“The functioning of the settlement in Truso and the associated activity of the Vikings is currently the most reliable indication of how the treasure reached the territory of ancient Prussia,” said lead archaeologist Łukasz Szczepański. Science in Poland.
The Carolingian King Charles the Bald (pictured) reportedly paid the Vikings 7,000 livres, or more than five tons of silver and gold, not to plunder Paris in the 9th century
“In the 9th century we see a marked increase in the threat posed by the Vikings participating in the invasions of Western Europe,” Szczepański added.
The siege of Paris in 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of western Francia, he noted.
It is possible that the location was a drop site intended for the invaders to retrieve the treasure, but for whatever reason the deal was never closed.
While the coins are clearly Carolingian, there is little to indicate exactly where they were minted.
Boguki hopes to discover more of their origins by studying the shapes of the letters in their Latin inscriptions and other features.