A treasure trove of silver coins stashed in a ceramic jug apparently hidden by a blind Polish priest over 300 years ago have been found by workmen removing rotting floorboards in his former church.
The find, although valuable, is also rather unique in that it is extremely rare to be able to piece together the scenario under which such a treasure was originally hidden, but in this case, the team believe they have been able to find who did it, and why.
The discovery was made while work was being carried out on the Church of the Rosary of Our Lady in the village of Obisovce which is near Kosice in Slovakia, according to details released by the Kosice Regional Monuments Board.
The find is unusual because by looking at church records, and the information on the coins, the team from the Triglav Archaeological Society appear to have stumbled on who buried the coins and why.
The coins date back to 1702 and were minted from nearby towns where it is believed people had visited and left the cash as donations. The team noted however that there were also some coins from further afield in Poland.
The church was reportedly popular with pilgrims during a period of an anti-Habsburg revolt that started in the 1680s, known as the Thokoly uprising, which was mainly centred around Hungarian refugees from the Ottoman territories that had settled in the region. The rebellion was put down by 1687 and historical records show that sometime between 1685 and 1687, the parish was taken over by a Polish priest who was blind in one eye, and who in the 1690s went blind completely.
He was reportedly a popular priest, and many pilgrims journeyed to the church leaving behind money that, it is believed, the priest hid under a stone slab in the floor of the church.
But the period of peace after the rebellion was put down was shattered when there was another anti-Hapsburg revolt, this time involving Hungarian nobles and peasants. It is believed that the rebels plundered the church, seizing everything of value and leaving the building a ruin.
The priest survived the attack but the church was not immediately rebuilt, and for unknown reasons he was expelled to Poland. It is unclear why he did not retrieve the treasure or tell anyone else about the hoard of coins hidden under the floor.
The church, which was plundered in 1705, was left derelict for three years before later being renovated and restored.
The archaeological team said the discovery was made over 300 years later while builders were removing the floorboards in the village of just over 300 people during renovation work which was carried out in February. They realised that the foundations of a previous church had been uncovered, and the archaeological team were called in to excavate the find.
They located a stone slab not far from the western entrance of the church, and when they removed it, they found a hidden chamber underneath which contained the pottery jug filled with silver coins. They said that in total there were 500 coins, all of which had been separately wrapped in what was once linen cloth, and which had disintegrated over time.
After being rebuilt, the church was demolished again in the middle of the 19th century when it was replaced by the current, modern building which was being renovated when the old foundations were discovered.
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