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"Ambiorix' Treasure"


The "treasure of Ambiorix". Gallo-Romaans Museum, Tongeren (Belgium). Photo Marco Prins. Treasure of Ambiorix: modern name of a treasure of ancient coins from 60-50 BCE. It is named after the leader of the Eburones, Ambiorix, and can be seen in the Gallo-Romeins Museum at Tongeren (Belgium).

In the spring of 2000, a treasure of 102 golden coins was discovered near Heers. Ninety-four of these were bought by the province of Limburg and are currently on display in the archaeological museum at Tongeren, which is near Hees.

The treasure contained coins from several ancient Belgian tribes: seventy-four were minted by the Eburones, seventeen by the Nervians, one by the Trevirans, one by the Bellovaci, and one by an unidentified ethnic group. It is very tempting to connect this treasure with the insurrection of Ambiorix, the Eburonian leader who revolted against the Romans in the winter of 54/53 BCE, destroyed one of the legions of the Roman general Gaius Julius Caesar, and witnessed how his tribe was massacred by his enemies. One argument for the connection between the coins and the rebellion is that in ancient Gaul, coins were usually minted only to pay soldiers. The fact that copper was added to the coins, also suggests that they were emergency coinage.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier (order; review)

There is something odd about the coins. The seventy-four Eburonian were minted with the same die; the seventeen Nervian coins were also made with one die. This proves that the treasure was not assembled; the coins never circulated and were brought almost straight from the workshop to the place where they were discovered. The person who hid them must have been very close to the man who struck them, probably Ambiorix. We can imagine that he ordered an aristocrat with a following of warriors to perform a military task and paid him with newly minted Eburonian and Nervian coins.

A similar find, consisting of 109 Eburonian coins, was mentioned in November 2008, near Maastricht.

Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2003
Revision: 13 Nov. 2008
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other