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But, none of these materials is as good as a coin with the name of a king and a date stamped into the metal.” We were lucky. We could read a few of the letters by holding a tiny flashlight along the surface so that the raking light created shadow effects that revealed a few of the letters and what seemed like a 16-something date. If we could identify it, we would have a certain date before which the Hart Chalet Inuit site could not have been occupied. Meaning, the earliest possible date for something to happen.
Our boat captain, Perry Colbourne, used a small flashlight and a Nikon cool-pix camera to get shots of both sides of the coin which we sent off to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to see if someone there could identify it.
Hoards of valued materials, particularly coins, are a common discovery across Iron Age Britain and Europe, and the former Roman Empire.
In the past, coin hoards have been mainly studied by numismatists as artefacts largely divorced from their archaeological context, under the guise of monetary, economic and political history.
These dates always have a built-in error of plus or minus 40 years—so you can be 80 years off right from the start.
And by AD 1600 you don’t get accurate results anyway; not enough C-14 has decayed to C-12 to give a statistically accurate age. “When the Inuit, migrating south, reached central Labrador around 1550, they met European fishermen and whalers—many of them Basque whalers from northern Spain.
Twenty minutes later, I got an email response from my student intern Margaret Litten. I am a pretty good numismatist [coin expert],” she wrote.
Even if they’re not worth much back when they were made, they can be invaluable to someone trying to reconstruct history.” For forty years, I have been studying the migration of Inuit people (the proper name for the people we used to call “Eskimos”) from the Canadian Arctic into Labrador and the northern Gulf of St. I’ve dug up thousands of artifacts and written many papers about Inuit history and archaeology.
To date, there has been relatively little systematic archaeological investigation of why Roman coin hoards were buried and why some hoards were not recovered, and what information they might provide when studied as a group.