Cosenza, the Italian city with 25 tons of ancient artifacts

October 26, 2015

Italian archaeologists are to start excavations in search of a fabled cache of ancient Roman treasure which, according to legend, was buried alongside the Gothic king who sacked the city in the 5th century. And according to The Telegraph,

it’s going to be 25 tons of ancient artifacts for an estimated value of over 1 billion euros.

During his looting of Rome in 410 AD, Alaric is supposed to have amassed a treasure of gold, silver and precious stones, such as priceless relics from the Holy Land which had previously been stolen by the Romans during their conquest of Jerusalem.

The lord of Visigoths died in Cosenza, and right there his tomb was built by a horde of slaves who diverted the water from the river Busento, allowing them to dig a grave which, eventually, welcomed the king, his horse and all his treasures. Once the tomb was completed the river was returned to its original site and Alaric's tomb was covered with water.

It’s not the first time that treasure hunters go to Cosenza with the sole goal of finding Alaric’s treasure: among them, there was a group of Nazi goldiggers sent there by SS Himmler who - as many probably know - was obsessed by the myths and legends of the ancient Huns.

Today, geologist Amerigo Rota - part of team the mayor of Cosenza charged to find the treasure - says that historical data can finally be matched with geographical indications and a parliamentary committee has allowed the search, which will take place over the next six months.

“The treasure consisted of about 10 wagons full of gold and silver, and perhaps also the sacred Jewish candelabra, the Menorah”, explains the mayor of Cosenza, Mario Occhiuto. “The town council and the provincial administration have initiated, for the first time, a plan to systematically search for the treasure, using the latest technical and scientific innovations.”

Someone, though, seems ready to put off any enthusiasms.

“We need to be cautious,” Pietro De Leo, a medieval historian from Calabria University, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “There are few doubts that the king of the Goths was buried in Cosenza. But I don’t believe there was an immense treasure.”

The city of Cosenza hopes the treasure will be found, and that it will bring a new dawn to the area in terms of tourism - one of the biggest sources of income of the entire country.

Mario Occhiuto declares: “The sack of Rome was, for the people of the time, the end of the world, the Apocalypse. But it was also the start of a slow process of assimilation between Roman culture and the peoples of the north, who at the time were considered barbarians”.

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