Celtic coin cache found
By Toby Sterling
A hobbyist with
a metal detector struck both gold and silver
when he uncovered an important cache of ancient
Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern
Dutch city of Maastricht.
"It's exciting, like a little boy's dream," Paul
Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular
find was made public.
Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70
silver coins was minted in the middle of the
first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler
Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic
tribes in the area.
Curfs said he was walking with his detector this
spring and was about to go home when he suddenly
got a strong signal on his earphones and
uncovered the first coin.
"It was golden and had a little horse on it I
had no idea what I had found," he said.
After posting a photo of the coin on a Web
forum, he was told it was a rare find. The
following day he went back and found another
"It looked totally different silver, and
saucer-shaped," he said. Curfs notified the city
of his find, and he and several other hobbyists
helped in locating the rest of the coins, in
cooperation with archaeologists.
Nico Roymans, the archaeologist who led the
academic investigation of the find, believes the
gold coins in the cache were minted by a tribe
called the Eburones that Caesar claimed to have
wiped out in 53 B.C. after they conspired with
other groups in an attack that killed 6,000
The Eburones "put up strong resistance to
Caesar's journeys of conquest," Roymans said.
The silver coins were made by tribes further to
the north possible evidence of cooperation
against Caesar, he said.
Both coin types have triple spirals on the
front, a common Celtic symbol.
The two other known caches of Eburones coins
have been found in neighboring Belgium and
Maastricht city spokeswoman Carla Wetzels said
the value of the coins is not known their
worth is primarily historical. The Belgian cache
of similar size was estimated at around 175,000
The farmer who owned the land agreed to sell his
interest to the city for an undisclosed sum.
Curfs, a teacher at a nearby junior college,
continues to own the 11 coins he found, but has
lent them to the City of Maastricht on a
long-term basis. The coins will go on display at
the Centre Ceramique museum in Maastricht this
Curfs said he considers his metal detector habit
a meditative hobby and not an obsession.
"I have advice for anybody hoping to get rich
like this," Curfs said. "Forget it."