Pot brimming with 17th century coins found in field during search for tractor parts
A man’s search for spare parts for his sister's tractor turned into a real-life treasure hunt when he stumbled across a clay pot brimming with over 1,000 17th century coins.
Local man Michał Łotys came across the trove in the small village of Zaniówka after taking his new metal detector to help search for the missing agricultural equipment.
When the detector started to beep, he scratched away the top soil to reveal the pot stuffed with copper coins.
Dariusz Kopciowski, provincial heritage conservator, said: "The deposit consists of 17th-century Polish and Lithuanian small copper coins amounting to about 1,000 pieces.
“The whole has a weight of about 3kg. The coins are in varying degrees of preservation. 115 pieces are loose, and there are also 62 so-called conglomerates."
Conglomerates are what archaeologists call metal coins that have moulded together over time through a process of oxidation.
Specialists arrived on the scene on 26 February to identify and secure the coins. A later analysis showed that the vast majority of the coins were minted between 1663 and 1666, primarily at the mints in Ujazdów, Vilnius and Brest.
The discovery site also revealed that the treasure was placed intentionally in the soil due to a clear outlined mark where the treasure was buried.
The coins are known as 'boratynki' after the then-manager of the Kraków mint, Titus Livius Boratini. They were extremely popular coins at the time and today a set of 12 costs around 30-40 zlotys.
Though the coins individually did not hold much value in the 17th century, taken together they amounted to a hefty sum.
Treasure hunting website Zwiadowca Historii wrote: “For about 1,000 copper coins you could buy 250kg of rye 90kg of wheat 10kg of butter, about 80 litres of beer or 3 litres of wine, or 5 litres of vodka.
“Around 1,000 boratynki would pay for 2 pairs of shoes.”
Boratynki were minted as a response to the dire state of the royal treasury during the period of the Swedish Deluge.
Seventeenth-century Poland was a country devastated by wars with Sweden, Russia and the Cossacks. Many regions were completely ravaged by the fighting. Invaders looted and plundered the country.
The authorities, having nothing with which to pay the army, needed funds. Boratini proposed minting a small copper coin that would have a declared value of a silver coin.
The copper coins with the head of King Jan Kazimierz in a laurel wreath on the obverse were struck in huge quantities. In fact, Boratini broke the rules by minting them beyond the limit set by the Sejm.
According to records, more than 570 million of the coins were minted, leading to runaway inflation.
To compound the problems, their poor quality meant that they were easily forged by counterfeiters.
Why exactly these coins were buried in the field near Parczew is not clear. It is possible that the owner wanted to hide them from enemy forces but was later killed or moved away and did not return for the treasure.
The discovery will be transferred in its entirety to the Department of Archaeology of the Southern Podlasie Museum in Biała Podlaska.