Italy's Ministry of Culture told CNN that the treasure "represents one of the most important discoveries of numismatic finds in recent years”
A diver off the coast of Sardinia, Italy made quite the unexpected discovery when he spotted something metallic in the sea: a trove of ancient coins.
After being alerted by the diver, Italy’s Ministry of Culture sent additional divers from an art protection squad and the undersea archaeology department down to verify the items, which turned out to be Roman bronze coins, according to the Associated Press.
Also known as follis, the ministry determined that these Roman coins possibly date back to the first half of the fourth century (between 324 to 340 CE), per the AP. The coins were introduced around 294 AD during the rise of Roman emperor Diocletian, according to The Guardian.
While the ministry said they did not know the exact amount of how many were found, they suspect that there were between 30,000 and 50,000 coins due to its weight, the AP and CNN report.
“All the coins were in an excellent and rare state of preservation,” the ministry said, per AP. Four of the coins were damaged but were still able to be read.
A majority of the coins were found scattered among seagrass near the shore of Sardinia by the town of Arzachena. Because of the location, the ministry suspects that they may have come from a shipwreck, per CNN.
The coins were also found alongside the remains of amphorae, which are Greek jugs with an oval body, narrow neck and two handles, the outlet reported.
Italy’s Ministry of Culture did not immediately reply to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Luigi La Rocca, the ministry's director general of archaeology, fine arts and landscape for the region, said in a statement to CNN that the treasure "represents one of the most important discoveries of numismatic finds in recent years."
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“[The discovery] highlights the richness and importance of the archaeological heritage that our seabed, traversed by men and goods since the earliest times, still guards and preserves,” La Rocca said.
This wasn’t the first time that Roman coins of this type were found in waters off the coast of Europe. In 2013, diver Laurence Egerton found 22,888 coins under the sea near the site of a Roman villa and a military building in Seaton, United Kingdom, according to The Guardian.
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