Divers who were making an inventory of the underwater archaeological sites off the coast of Pantellería, an island in the Strait of Sicily, between that island and ancient Carthage (current Tunisia), They have found almost 3,500 Punic bronze coins.
The inventory project began in June, with divers exploring the sea off Cala Tramontana (east coast of Sicily), in order to create an itinerary for dive tourism. Various ancient artifacts were expected to be found, especially ceramics and amphoras (very frequent in the area), but never the enormous amount of Punic coins.
All the coins were minted between 264-241 BC, the exact dates of the First Punic War, and they all feature the same iconography: Carthage Tanit's fertility goddess with a crown of wheat on the front, and the head of a horse surrounded by symbols such as stars and letters on the back.
“As all the coins present the same iconography, we believe that the money was an institutional payment. In fact, normal transactions contain different types of currencies”, Commented archaeologist Leonardo Abelli, director of the excavation.
According to the researcher, the money was transported on a Carthaginian ship to Sicily and would be destined for an anti-Roman movement, but something must have gone wrong during the navigation.
“They decided to hide the treasure at the bottom of the sea, in relatively shallow waters, hoping to retrieve it later. In fact, near the coins a giant stone anchor was found”Abelli said.
Pantellería, called Cossyra In ancient times, it was colonized by Carthage in the 7th century BC, and its proximity to both Carthage and Sicily made it a valuable way station for the Empire.
The Roman Republic conquered the island in 255 BC, during the First Punic War, but lost it again the following year. According to the terms of the Treaty of Lutatius in 241 BC. (the peace treaty that ended the war), Carthage evacuated the island, as well as most of the inhabitants of Sicily and other islands in the strait, such as Lampedusa or Lampione.
Rome will finally reclaim the island in 217 BC, a year after Carthage sent Hannibal and his elephants to the Alps to start the Second Punic War. Later, the island would be a destination for exile for high-ranking offenders and for members of the imperial family.
Source: News Discovery
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