Ancient treasure find stuns archaeologists

'Exceptional' treasure trove uncovered at site next to former Benedictine Abbey includes gold Islamic coins

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More than 2,000 gold and silver coins are among an 'exceptional' treasure trove of artefacts found by a team of archaeologists working on a site next to Cluny Abbey in the Saône-et-Loire.

The hoard at the former Benedictine Monastery was found by a team of archaeologists and students from the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and CNRS.

The discovery, made in mid-September but only officially announced this week, includes:

  • 21 Islamic gold dinars struck between 1121 and 1131 in Spain and Morocco, under the reign of Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1143);
  • More than 2,200 silver deniers and oboles - mostly minted by the Abbey of Cluny and probably dating to the first half of the 12th century - in a cloth bag;
  • A gold signet ring with a red intaglio depicting the bust of a god and an inscription that could date the find to the first half of the 12th century;
  • A folded sheet of gold foil stored in a case;
  • A small circular object made of gold.

Cluny Abbey was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine, in 910 and was one of the largest abbeys of Western Europe during the Middle Ages.

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