Archeologists have found a Roman coin during excavations in the historic center of the northern city of Veliky Novgorod, an archeologist said on Monday.
The copper coin, which belongs to a type known as "follis," is believed to date to the early 4th century A. D., Oleg Oleinikov of the Moscow-based Archeology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Interfax.
Oleinikov said it was the first such artifact to be found in Veliky Novgorod. It lay in the early-11th-century occupation earth layer, Oleinikov said.
The coin was believed to have been minted during the reign of Emperor Constantine I, founder of Constantinople. There is a picture of the goddess Roma and a Latin inscription saying "City of Rome" on the obverse and a picture of the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus on the obverse.
Oleinikov said the follis, which was a little more than one centimeter in diameter, was well-preserved and that researchers were examining it currently.
"Among other things, we have to find out in what city it was minted," he said.It will most likely remain a mystery how the coin ended up in 11th-century Russia. Oleinikov expressed suspicion it had been brought back from Byzantium by a pilgrim.In those days, pilgrims who brought back coins from their trips had a custom of wearing them round their neck as a memo of what, in those days, would have been such a long journey.
The Veliky Novgorod coin had no hole in it, which suggested its owner had lost it soon after returning to the city. "If that was the case, it would have been a real tragedy - bringing a coin from the other end of the world and losing it immediately," Oleinikov said.
Archeologists have made more than 1,000 remarkable finds during the excavations, which began in mid-May, take up an area of about 300 square meters, and involve digging through a layer of earth about six meters deep. The finds include six Russian birchbark manuscripts and a possibly unique ornament dating to the 14th or 15th century and showing a psaltery player singing to a group of warriors.