NETHERLANDS Gold detectorist discovered priceless treasure including four pieces of gold jewelry shaped like earrings, two pieces of gold leaf and 39 silver coins in a field.

Lorenzo Ruijter discovers medieval treasure in a field. Photo: RMO

Treasures including gold and silver jewelry and coins, some dating back at least 1,000 years, are on display at the Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden (RMO) museum in Leiden, Netherlands, Dutch News on March 9 reported. The jewelry was made in the first half of the 11th century but the coins were minted in the 13th century, meaning a collector living in the 1200s or later must have buried the precious objects.

The above artifacts were not discovered by an archaeologist but by a 27-year-old historian and metal detector named Lorenzo Ruijter. In 2021, Ruijter participated in a treasure hunting expedition near the city of Hoogwoud, located in the West Frisian region (Friesland) in the northwest of the Netherlands. After the metal detector emitted a series of beeps, he began digging and quickly found some rare antiques. According to Annemarieke Willemsen, manager of the Medieval gallery at the RMO, the earrings are internationally important. They show that people in the North Netherlands had their highest level of contact around the year 1000.

The four crescent-shaped jewelry pieces are crafted from 18-carat gold bars. The attached hanger shows that they are meant to be worn on the body or clothing. One of the pieces of jewelry was severely damaged, possibly by a farmer’s plow in the field where the treasure was found. But the remaining objects are all quite intact, including one carved with the image of a man with many rays of sunlight surrounding his head. The two pieces of jewelry, including the damaged object, were decorated with roses made from thin threads twisted in a knot. The jewelry was eventually engraved with images, but the research team has not been able to determine the content and meaning.

According to the RMO museum, the above gold jewelry is especially rare. Only three similar objects have ever been found in excavations in the Netherlands. Researchers speculate that the two pieces of gold leaf may belong to the same hair jewelry.

The 39 small silver coins were mainly minted in three counties in the Netherlands during the Middle Ages: Guelders, Cleves and Holland. There were many fabric fibers mixed in between the coins, indicating they were inside a cloth bag. Ruijter links the gold and silver objects he unearthed to the Ottoman period, the empire that spread across western and northern Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries.

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