The treasure of Cluny, photographed here in full, was less than a meter from the surface of the soil.
© Alexis Grattier Alexis Grattier
They were looking for the foundations of the old infirmary of the abbey of Cluny, they have found a treasure ! 2 250 funds and donations in money of a bluish colour, 21 dinars muslims in gold but also a gold ring with an intaglio antique red color representing the bust of a god, a gold foil of 24 grams folded up into a carry case and a small circular element of gold… “We immediately understood that this was a unique discovery, and I do not think I ever seeing it in my life as an archaeologist,” says a student who participated in the project. “A treasure of exceptional and extremely rare,” confirms Anne Baud, the teacher-researcher in archaeology at the university Lumière-Lyon-II, who led the excavation open with his students and CNRS researchers. “This is an exceptional discovery on the scientific level as to the general public. “”The treasures are typically discovered by private equipped with metal detectors and so they are lost to history,” says Anne Flammin, engineer of the CNRS, attached to the lab of archaeology.
The treasure was collected in a canvas bag in a hole of the backfill, loam to 70 cm under the ground and it clearly has not moved since more than eight centuries. It was exhumed by the chance stroke of a shovel, which was beginning to dig at the site of the old infirmary. “It was the second day of excavation, in the late afternoon, we were looking for the corner of the large room of the infirmary,” says Anne Flammin. A few parts have fallen, it has taken all of the treasure, and there is interest now to analyze his environment. “
Gold coins minted in Andalusia
© Alexis Grattier Alexis Grattier
In the laboratory, the treasure of Cluny began to be analyzed and dated. The gold coins were minted between 1121 and 1131 in Andalusia and Morocco, under the reign of Ali Ben Youssef of berber dynasty of the Almoravids. The funds and donations of money have been issued in their large majority at the Cluny and are dated to the first half of the Twelfth century.
Vincent Borrel, the lab of archaeology of the House to the East, has embarked on an assessment of the loot. “The 21 gold coins have approximately the same value as the 2 250 pieces of silver, he says. They accounted for between three and eight horses, the equivalent of today’s cars. It was a significant sum for an individual. This sum also allowed the supply of the abbey during the six days… “
Who buried this treasure ?
Archaeologists and researchers are now working to lift the veil on the environment of the treasure money. “Who was buried ? A religious ? A lay person ? Why has he been buried ? And why has he been forgotten ? This is all very romantic, ” admits Anne Baud, giving the direction of future research. They will be conducted with specialists from other universities, in France but also abroad, in Spain and the United States, where Cluny is the subject of extensive studies. “Cluny was one of the most important abbeys in western Europe in medieval times, reminiscent of Anne Baud. At the time, which was circulating this currency, Peter the Venerable was in the process of restoring the force and a spiritual dimension to the abbey, which was going through difficulties monetary. “
The discovery of this treasure should, in any case, give a boost to the excavations carried out since 1992 on the site of the abbey of Cluny. And, when the parts will have delivered all their secrets, they will be exposed to the public on their site of origin.