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HomeGreek PhilosphyMedieval Hoard of Gold and Silver Unearthed in the Netherlands

Medieval Hoard of Gold and Silver Unearthed in the Netherlands

An astonishing assortment of gold and silver jewellery and cash, some of that are no less than 1,000 years outdated, has simply gone on show at the Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden (RMO) museum in the metropolis of Leiden in the Netherlands, the Dutch News studies. The priceless valuable steel treasure contains 4 gold ornaments formed like earrings, two items of unattached gold leaf and 39 small silver cash, all of which had been discovered in the identical small plot of land.

The jewellery has been dated to the first half of the eleventh century, however the cash had been minted in the thirteenth century, which implies the gold and silver objects will need to have been buried by a collector of helpful objects who lived in the 1200s or later.

These gold and silver objects had been found not by skilled archaeologists, however by a 27-year-old historian and steel detectorist named Lorenzo Ruijter. In 2021 Mr. Ruijter was out on a treasure looking expedition someplace close to the metropolis of Hoogwoud, North Holland, which is positioned in the larger West Frisian (Friesland) area of the northwestern Netherlands. After getting a sequence of pings on his detector, he started digging in the earth and quickly uncovered these terribly uncommon objects.

“It was just shining gold,” Ruijter recalled in an interview with NH News . “That’s just unbelievable.”

History is Made at Hoogwoud

While all of the objects are noteworthy, the ornaments that appear to be earrings stand out.

“The discovery of the earrings is of international importance,” Annemarieke Willemsen, the curator of medieval displays at the RMO, informed the digital information service NRC. “They show that people in North Holland had contacts at the highest level around the year 1,000 and were in an international network with money.”

The 4 crescent-shaped ornaments had been constructed from bars of 18-carat gold. There had been suspension brackets connected, which provides to the impression that they had been meant to be worn on the physique or on clothes.

Engraving of a Man's Head with Rays: A Portrait of Christ, 'Sol Invictus', the Unconquered Sun (© Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning)

Engraving of a Man’s Head with Rays: A Portrait of Christ, ‘Sol Invictus’, the Unconquered Sun (© Archeology West-Friesland/ Fleur Schinning )

One of the crescent-shaped ornaments was badly broken, probably by a farmer’s plow working the discipline the place the treasure was discovered. But the others had been remarkably nicely preserved, and one options the clear and unmistakable engraved picture of a person whose head is enveloped in sunbeams.

“That may possibly be Christ, pictured as Sol Invictus , or the unconquered sun,” Willemsen speculated.

Two ornaments, together with the broken one, had been adorned with rosettes, which had been produced from skinny wires or filigrees of gold which have been twisted into knotted shapes. The remaining decoration additionally contained an engraved picture, however its contents and which means have but to be decided.

While they do resemble earrings, Willemsen stated that the ornaments “were probably not put through the ears, but worn on a cap or band.”

It is the model of the jewellery that dates the ornaments (and possible the gold leaf) to the eleventh century. It options components frequent to the northern Netherlands at the moment, but additionally to Germany to different areas of the Holy Roman Empire.

“Hoogwoud’s earrings are special because they are hybrids,” Willemsen defined. “The crescent moon shape occurs in Byzantium , we see the use of this type of filigree in the Holy Roman Empire, especially Germany, and the engravings are typical for Frisia and Scandinavia.”

Reconstruction: a woman wearing the golden ‘earrings’. (© Archeology West-Friesland/Fleur Schinning)

Reconstruction: a girl carrying the golden ‘earrings’. (© Archeology West-Friesland/ Fleur Schinning )

The cosmopolitan nature of the ornaments is why Willemsen connects them to a global buying and selling community that handed by way of the lands of North Holland and West Frisia throughout the Middle Ages .

In their description of the just-opened show, the RMO Museum famous that the gold ornaments are particularly uncommon. Only three related objects have beforehand been discovered throughout excavations in the Netherlands, and none look precisely like the newly found objects.

As for the two gold leaf fragments, it appears they match collectively like two items of a puzzle. Researchers say they had been as soon as half of the identical headband, which might have been wound round some kind of material hood.

 “There were still fibers on the gold leaf,” Willemsen stated.

The 39 small silver cash had been largely minted in three counties in the medieval Netherlands (Guelders, Cleves and Holland), though some got here from the adjoining German Empire to the west.

 “The youngest were struck in 1247 or 1248 under Willem II, Count of Holland and Roman King,” stated Michiel Bartels, head of the group Archeology West Friesland

Threads of material had been discovered amongst the cash, suggesting they’d been stored inside a material bag. All the gold and silver objects had been discovered inside a radius of 5 meters of one another, inflicting Bartels to conclude that “they were probably buried together and the ornaments were heirlooms. Someone must have buried the treasure to keep it safe.”

Meet the Detectorist Who is Living the Dream

Lorenzo Ruijter isn’t simply an novice detectorist who simply acquired fortunate. He is a skilled historian who volunteers as an archaeological assistant for Archeology West Friesland, and he particularly selected the discipline in Hoogwoud as a probable spot the place fascinating artifacts is perhaps discovered.

 “That’s one thing you develop over the years,” the younger historian stated, describing how he chooses the place to discover. “It’s a mix of likelihood, intuition and analysis, I believe.” 

Ruijter linked the gold and silver objects he unearthed to the Ottonian interval , which was named after a dynasty of highly effective German Saxon monarchs who dominated the Holy Roman Empire of western and northern Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries. 

“Items from that point are virtually non-existent,” he defined, “so in phrases of objects they’re very particular.”

To defend the sanctity of his discovery web site, Ruijter has refused to reveal its precise location to the media. Even his pals and fellow detectorists have been denied this data for now.

“We noticed in Ommeren {that a} Nazi treasure was [rumored to be] buried there,” he stated, referencing the current launch of a declassified World War II-era map that supposedly revealed the location of a Nazi treasure on Netherlands soil . “Everyone went there with out permission, [digging] holes in the floor. It grew to become one huge mess.” 

While the web site the place the jewellery and cash had been unearthed will stay a secret for now, the treasure itself might be hidden now not. The Hoogwoud hoard show will stay open at the RMO Museum in Leiden till June 15, and it should then be opened once more on October 13 as half of a bigger exhibition entitled “The Year 1,000.”

Top picture: The full Hoogwoud hoard: 4 gold pendants, two items of gold leaf and 39 silver medals.  Source: © Archeology West-Friesland/ Fleur Schinning

By Nathan Falde


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