Coin discovery thrills archaeologists

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The archaeologists have been following excavations done by city workers who are replacing underground water pipes in the oldest part of Oslo, called Gamlebyen.

That’s the neighborhoods east of today’s downtown area where Oslo’s first known settlements were established more than a thousand years ago. It’s also where there are ruins of churches and homes from the Middle Ages.

Gunhild Hovik Hansen of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (Norsk institute for kulturminneforskning, NIKU) said she was doing some digging herself when suddenly something caught her attention amidst all the sand and dirt.

“I thought that this must be something very exciting,” she told newspaper Aften.

Gunhild Hovik Hansen

She plucked out what experts agree is a silver coin that’s at least 900 years old. The thin and worn coin weighs no more than two grams, with a diameter of about one-and-a-half centimeters.

It remains unclear where the coin came from, possibly Germany or England.

Svein Gullbekk of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Kulturhistorikk museum) said coins have been found that date from 1200-1400, and even 1000, but nothing from the 1100s.

“This is exciting,” he exclaimed. “There weren’t very many coins in Norway during the 1100s.”

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