Coe students assist in uncovering rare coins from ancient Greece

2018-04-19 10:08:01 - Feature

The hoard of 119 ancient coins was found mere inches beneath the surface, yet it took almost 1,500 years for a team of archaeologists, including Coe students, to uncover the treasure.

The mystery of why these coins were left behind when the ancient Greek city of Lechaion collapsed around A.D. 600 has garnered attention from Newsweek, Archaeology and Live Science.

"I didn't think those coins would be the focus of any articles this early in the life of the site," said senior Corbin Grossenbacher, one of several Coe students who helped excavate the coins. He said being part of the find was quite an experience, revealing as many as 20 coins a day.

"The hoard is significant because it will help us answer questions about why the site was abandoned when it was," said Coe College Assistant Professor of History Angela Ziskowski, assistant director of the Lechaion Harbor and Settlement Land Project.

The harbor of ancient Corinth was active for more than a millenium. The coins, mostly bronze and a few silver, date to as early as Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (A.D. 306-337) and as late as Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (A.D. 491-518).

Dr. Paul Scotton, co-director of the Lechaion excavation with Dr. Constantinos Kissas, told Newsweek the harbor had been destroyed and rebuilt several times, adding to the mystery of why it was not rebuilt in A.D. 600. Soon entering its third season, the Lechaion Harbor and Settlement Land Project aims to reveal the geography and chronology of structures at the primary harbor.

It also consists of a training component under Scotton's and Ziskowski's direction. The field school works with about 40 students from all over the U.S., including 13 who are from Coe this coming summer.

"The hands-on experience in archaeological training and methodology is essential for learning about the field. In addition, the students get to visit archaeological sites in the region and Athens every weekend," Ziskowski said.

"The Lechaion field school helped me discover my passion for archaeology and has really helped me decide that I would like to continue my schooling at some point to get a degree in classical archaeology," Grossenbacher said.

Learn more about Coe's history department at www.coe.edu/history.

Project Director Paul Scotton and Assistant Director Angela Ziskowski working the sieve.
Project Director Paul Scotton and Assistant Director Angela Ziskowski working the sieve.
Leah Shafer ’19 (left) removes a tile in the basilica at the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project.
Leah Shafer ’19 (left) removes a tile in the basilica at the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project.