Farmer discovers huge hoard of more than 4,000 ancient Roman coins in Switzerland

Farmer discovers huge hoard of more than 4,000 ancient Roman coins in Switzerland

A Swiss farmer made an incredible find in his cherry orchard when he spotted something shimmering in a molehill and subsequently discovered a trove of 4,166 bronze and silver Roman coins. The hoard has been described as one of the biggest treasures ever found in Switzerland.

The Agence France Press reports that the finding occurred in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau in Switzerland, a short distance away from an ancient Roman settlement in the nearby town of Frick. The Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer contacted the regional archaeological service, which took several months to carefully excavate all the coins, some of which were buried in small leather pouches.

The finding was made in the picturesque region of Aargau, Switzerland (pictured).

In total, the trove weighs an incredible 15kg (33lb) and consists of ancient Roman coins stretching from the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270 – 275 AD), known for restoring the Empire’s eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire, to the reign of Maximian (286 – 305 AD), who carried out campaigns to relieve the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion. The most recent coin discovered in the hoard dates to 294 AD.

"As an archaeologist one rarely experiences something like this more than once in your career," Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter told Spiegel Online .

The coins are in excellent condition with the prints still legible, leading experts to suspect that the coins were taken out of circulation shortly after they were minted, but retained for the value of the bronze and silver.

Ancient Roman coins

The region in which the coins were found has a long history, and is believed to have been the location of a large Roman settlement between the 1 st and 4 th century AD. Remains of a 2 nd century Roman estate have been found along the main road in the town of Frick, and a 4 th century fort was discovered below the church hill. The Roman era name for Frick (Latin: Ferraricia) refers to a Roman iron ore mine in the area.

Frick, canton of Aargau, Switzerland

The farmer who discovered the treasure will receive a finder’s fee, but according to Swiss law, the coins will remain public property and are set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.

Featured image: Ancient Roman coins (representational image only). Credit: Roger Smith ( Flickr)

By: April Holloway


    Dear Kitty. Some blog

    This video says about itself:

    19 November 2015

    A Swiss farmer has discovered a huge trove of ancient Roman coins in his cherry orchard.

    The stash of more than 4,000 bronze and silver coins is believed to have been buried some 1,700 years ago.

    Weighing around 15kg (33lb), he discovered the coins after spotting something shimmering in a molehill.

    The regional archaeological service said the coin trove was one of the biggest such finds in Swiss history.

    The trove was unearthed in July in Ueken in the northern canton of Aargau.

    Since a Roman settlement was discovered in the nearby town of Fick, just a few months before, he suspected the coins might be of Roman origin.

    The farmer contacted the regional archaeological service who, after months of careful excavation, announced on Thursday that 4,166 coins had been found in excellent condition.

    Some of the coins date from AD 274 and the rule of Emperor Aurelian. The find also included coins from the time of Emperor Maxim[i]an in 294.

    Swiss archaeologist Georg Matter, who worked on the excavation, said what they found within the first three days “exceeded all expectations by far”.

    “As an archaeologist one rarely experiences something like this more than once in your career,” he told Spiegel Online.

    Coin expert Hugo Doppler said the coins were in such good condition it was clear they “were taken out of circulation right after they were minted.”

    He believes the owners hoarded the coins because “the the silver contained in them guaranteed a certain value retention in a time of economic uncertainty.”


    Farmer discovers huge hoard of more than 4,000 ancient Roman coins in Switzerland - History

    İZMİR, TURKEY—Hurriyet Daily News reports that an 1,800-year-old statue of a woman has been unearthed in western Turkey, at the site of the ancient city of Metropolis. The city, which is near ancient Ephesus, was occupied during the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. Ongoing excavations are being conducted by archaeologists from the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and Celal Bayar University. To read about a Roman amphitheater unearthed at the ancient city of Mastaura in western Turkey, go to "In the Anatolian Arena."

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS—According to a statement released by the University of Texas at Arlington, 9,000-year-old tools made from obsidian quarried in central Oregon have been found some 2,000 miles away at an undisturbed archaeological site now submerged in Lake Huron. Researcher Ashley Lemke said the sharp edges on the small pieces of volcanic glass may have been used by caribou hunters at the end of the last Ice Age, when water levels were much lower. These flakes are the farthest east that western obsidian has been found, she added. For more on the underwater archaeology of Lake Huron, go to "Shipwreck Alley."

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    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—According to a statement released by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a 7,000-year-old piece of clay bearing impressions made by two different geometric stamps has been identified among the more than 150 bullae unearthed at Tel Tsaf, a prehistoric village site in northern Israel’s Beit She’an Valley. Archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel said the use of two different stamps on the same seal suggests that two individuals may have placed their mark on a shipment of goods or on the door to a silo or barn where goods had been stored as a way to prevent tampering. Analysis of the composition of the clay indicates it came from at least six miles away, but other artifacts at the site indicate the residents at Tel Tsaf conducted long-distance trade with people from as far away as Mesopotamia, Turkey, Egypt, and Caucasia. To read about a 7,000-year-old ceramic vessel unearthed at Tel Tsaf, go to "World Roundup: Israel."

    ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—BBC News reports that archaeologists have analyzed fingerprints found on a piece of pottery uncovered at the Ness of Brodgar, a Neolithic ceremonial site on the island of Orkney. Kent Fowler of the University of Manitoba said that the researchers measured the density and breadth of the fingerprint ridges, accounting for the shrinkage produced when clay is dried and fired. They then determined that the prints were left behind by two young men, who tend to have broader ridges. One of the potters is thought to have been between the ages of 13 and 20, and the other between 15 and 22. “Although the prints exhibit identical average ages, there is little overlap in the ridge values between the two measured prints,” Fowler said. “This suggests one print was made by an adolescent male and the other by an adult male.” It is not known if the boy helped to shape the vessel, or if he was involved in the firing process, perhaps overseen by an older potter. For more on the Ness of Brodgar, go to "Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart."

    TRONDHEIM, NORWAY—According to a statement released by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, six pieces of wool and two pieces of linen have been recovered from a Viking woman’s grave in central Norway dated to between A.D. 850 and 950. Some of the textiles were found in layers in the pins of the woman’s brooches, and may represent inner and outer garments. One of the pieces of fabric, found with an oval brooch, measures about four inches long. Archaeologist Raymond Sauvage said the woman also had several hundred small pearls over her right shoulder that may have been embroidered into a garment. She is thought to have been buried in a pinafore dress fastened with brooches. Under the dress, she probably wore a shirt of linen or fine wool, and over it, a cape decorated with embroidery and edged with narrow braid, added archaeologist Ruth Iren Øien. Further investigation will focus on attempting to determine the colors of the fabrics. Chemical analysis of the wool could reveal if it was made from local sheep or had been imported. To read about a new analysis of a Viking helmet unearthed in northeastern England in the 1950s, go to "An Enduring Design."

    JAROSŁAW, POLAND—Science in Poland reports that a 100-foot-long segment of a three-foot-wide wooden road dated to the eighteenth century has been discovered in southeastern Poland, in the center of the town of Jarosław, where fabric, leather, and wine merchants gathered for fairs that may have attracted as many as 30,000 people. Archaeologist Katarzyna Oleszek said she has found additional, shorter sections of the road while excavating other areas of the town. The wood, thought to be oak, shows no hoof marks or wheel tracks, indicating it was very durable. Traces of repairs in several places suggest it was regularly maintained, Oleszek explained. Coins, pieces of shoe soles, and nails were also uncovered. To read about another recent discovery from Poland, go to "Around the World: Poland."

    CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—According to a Gizmodo report, a team of archaeologists led by Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge suggests that a rise in the occurrence of hallux valgus, or bunions, could be attributed to the late-fifteenth century fashion for wearing poulaines, a type of shoe with a long pointy toe. An examination of skeletons from a charity hospital cemetery, a friary, a parish graveyard, and a rural burial ground all located near Cambridge, England, revealed that overall, only six percent of people buried between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries exhibited signs of bunions, while 25 percent of skeletons dated from the fourteenth through fifteenth centuries had the condition. More than 40 percent of those buried at the friary, where the wealthy were buried with clergy, showed signs of bunions. This prevalence of the condition among the elite may reflect an inability to perform much work while wearing poulaines. “We were most impressed by the fact that older medieval people with hallux valgus also had more fractures than those of the same age who had normal feet,” Mitchell added. “This matches up with modern studies on people today who have been noted to have more falls if they have hallux valgus.” To read about a fourteenth-century child's shoe uncovered beneath the streets of Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland, go to "Medieval Baby Bootie."


    RELATED ARTICLES

    By putting all the pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold in one place, experts have discovered more than 600 new links and associations between the parts.

    Now shattered pieces of sword decoration and helmet are being put back together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, to give experts an improved understanding of the once buried treasure and its significance.

    Experts believe the precious artefacts, which range from fragments of helmet to gold sword decorations engraved with animals and encrusted with jewels (pictured), are a 'true archaeological mirror' to the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf

    The intricate pieces of gold, silver and garnet, many of which show highly detailed craftsmanship, were laid out and assembled on a table in a back room at Birmingham Museum and Gallery. These two artefacts are examples of early Christian crosses

    The skills of the ancient jewellers are striking, with threads of gold less than a millimetre thick wound into elegant patterns, and tiny pieces of red and blue garnet stone that have been carved into elaborate curved shapes to fit into sword decorations. Other pieces include snakes, horses and even marching warriors.

    One item initially thought to be a seahorse has been now identified to be a pair of stylised horses linked together with a wolf.

    The experts also discovered that the vast majority of the hoard would have been owned or used by soldiers, showing that it was not just kings who went into battle with their weaponry and armour decorated with gold and intricate jewellery.

    HOARD RESEARCH - WHAT THE EXAMINATION OF THE ARTEFACTS REVEALED

    • The number of artefacts in the collection now stands at 4,000, after more than the first 500 objects found were revealed in nearby fields - including a garnet bird mount.
    • Many broken fragments have been joined together into their original objects such as new types of sword fittings and other mounts.
    • Groups of sword fittings have been matched to show what original sword hilts looked like.
    • At least one helmet, composed of over 1,500 pieces, is contained in the treasure. Anglo-Saxon helmets are incredibly rare in Britain - only five were previously known.
    • The sword and weaponry fittings show for the first time the true extent of the gold wealth and aspirations of the ruling warrior class of early England. Previously, only glimpses of these warriors had been revealed in exceptional burials like Sutton Hoo.
    • The analysis has revealed much new information about how the objects were constructed including: the composition of the alloys used, the joining of metal with woods and animal horn plus the glues and resins made of animal and plant extracts.
    • A variety of types of Saxon and re-used Roman glass has also been identified.

    By putting all the pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold in one place, (pictured) experts have discovered more than 600 new links, joins and associations between the parts. Now shattered pieces of sword decoration and helmet are being put back together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, to give experts an ever changing view of the buried treasure

    The skills of the ancient jewellers are easily apparent with threads of gold less than a millimetre thick wound into intricate shapes, and tiny pieces of red and blue garnet stone that have been carved into elaborate, curved shapes to fit into sword pommel decorations. Other pieces show snakes, horses (pictured left) and warriors (right)

    THE DISCOVERY OF THE HOARD

    A treasure hunter made a find that professional archaeologists dream of in 2009.

    It was the most valuable hoard of Saxon gold in history - estimated to be worth £3.3million - and includes 500 pieces such as gold sword hilts, jewels from Sri Lanka and early Christian crosses.

    The 1,300-year-old treasure was discovered by unemployed Terry Herbert in July in a field owned by a friend in Staffordshire.

    Within days, the 55-year-old former coffin factory worker from Walsall had filled 244 bags with gold objects weighing in at more than 11lbs (5kg).

    Mr Herbert, who bought an old metal detector for £2.50 18 years ago, said he was overwhelmed by the find – regarded as one of the most important in decades.

    ‘I have this phrase that I say sometimes – “spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear” – but on that day I changed coins to gold,’ he said.

    ‘I don’t know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it. Maybe it was meant to be, maybe the gold had my name on it all along.

    ‘I was going to bed and in my sleep I was seeing gold items.’

    The jewels are thought to have come from Sri Lanka - carried to Europe by traders.

    The gold probably came from the Byzantine Empire, the eastern remnant of the Roman Empire based in what is now Istanbul.

    The treasure dates from 675 and 725AD, the time of Beowulf – the great Anglo-Saxon poem.

    Historian Chris Fern said that the unique discovery has shed new light on the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

    The description of a warrior’s adornment in gold was thought to have been exaggerated, but experts are starting to see that it could have been closer to the truth following the study of the Hoard.

    ‘The great poem Beowulf, once believed to be artistic exaggeration, now has a true mirror in archaeology. We thought it was a piece of exaggeration, or poetic spin,’ he said.

    ‘We did not think that this much gold was carried by the warrior class but the Staffordshire Hoard has revolutionised our understanding of this period.’

    David Symons, curator of antiquities and numismatics at Birmingham Museum explained that the exercise of laying out all the piece of the hoard together has been ‘crucial’ to examining each piece’s function.

    ‘For the first time we’ve been able to lay out all the pieces of the hoard, look at them, try to piece things together, group things together by the decoration on them and as a result we’ve made huge advances, including 600 joins and associations,’ he said.

    Mr Symons explained that they have been able to find pieces that were clearly linked together and in other cases see where designs matched and items may have been made by the same jeweller or goldsmith.

    ‘It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, we have lots of small pieces which eventually we can build into something,’ he said.

    One of the more unusual aspects of the Hoard is that much of the study has taken place publically.

    Traditionally when there is an archaeological find, experts take the items and study them, draw conclusions and publish their findings and only then do the items find their way into museums or public display.

    The Staffordshire Hoard, apart from some early cataloguing, went on display within weeks of its discovery and items have been cleaned and studied while others are on display in Birmingham, Stoke, Tamworth and Lichfield.

    ‘We knew at the start there was this massive public interest in the find,’ said Mr Symons.

    ‘By doing it this way we also gathered a huge and unprecedented response to the public fund raising appeal which allowed us to buy the hoard. This has been a strength of this find, that there has been all this interest. It’s been wonderful.’

    The hoard was discovered near the village of Hammerwich in a farmer’s field next to the A5 in July 2009 by treasure hunter Terry Herbert using his metal detector. A second batch was found nearby in November 2012.

    At the time it was hidden, Staffordshire was the heartland of Mercia, an aggressive kingdom under the rule of King Aethelred and other rulers.

    The experts also discovered that the vast majority of the Hoard would have been owned or used by soldiers, showing that it was not just kings who went into battle with their weaponry and armour decorated with gold and intricate jewellery

    The hoard was discovered near the village of Hammerwich (pictured) in a farmer's field next to the A5 in July 2009 by treasure hunter Terry Herbert using his metal detector. A second batch was found nearby in November 2012

    The gold could have been collected during wars with the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia. Some appears to have been deliberately removed from the objects to which they were attached. Some of the items have been bent and twisted.

    It may have been hurriedly buried when the owner was in danger. The fact it was never recovered suggests the owner was killed, experts said.

    It may also have been buried by a victorious army as a form of humiliation to the defeated.

    Fred Johnson, the farmer on whose land the treasure was discovered, joined conservationists to see all of the collection laid out in a cleaned state for the first time.

    Historian Chris Fern (pictured here examining fragments of the hoard) said that the unique discovery has shed new light on the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. The description of a warrior's adornment in gold was thought to have been exaggerated, but experts are starting to see that it could have been closer to the truth following the study of the hoard

    ‘This is the first time that I have seen the treasure like this in four years and it is even more amazing than before. I am very privileged to own the field where this treasure was found.

    ‘The field itself is very fertile and I have grown everything in it – it is amazing to think that potatoes and carrots had been growing in the same place as ancient buried treasure.

    ‘The snakes are my favourite artefacts and I was spellbound when I saw them for the first time.’

    The hoard was valued at £3.3million and bought by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent museums following a fundraising appeal.

    The hoard, which includes this intricately carved gold plate was discovered near the village of Hammerwich in a farmer's field next to the A5 in July 2009 by treasure hunter Terry Herbert using his metal detector. A second batch was found nearby in November 2012

    It was the most valuable hoard of Saxon gold in history and includes 500 pieces such as gold sword hilts, jewels from Sri Lanka (pictured) and early Christian crosses

    The hoard (pictured) has once again been broken up this week and pieces shipped out to the museums that form the 'Mercian Trail' where pieces are now on show

    The hoard has once again been broken up this week and pieces shipped out to the museums that form the ‘Mercian Trail’ where pieces are now on show.

    Work is underway on a new exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to display the Hoard in a purpose-built gallery and provide visitors with an insight into the Anglo-Saxon world. It is due to open in September.

    Visitors to Stoke-on-Trent’s Potteries Museum will be able to see 180 pieces from the hoard displayed in a recreated seventh century mead hall as part of an exhibition showing the life and times of the Anglo-Saxon Midlands.

    At the time it was hidden, Staffordshire was the heartland of Mercia, an aggressive kingdom. The gold could have been collected during wars with the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia. Some appears to have been deliberately removed from the objects to which they were attached. Some of the items have been bent and twisted (pictured)

    HAVE VALUABLE ARTEFACTS BEEN STOLEN FROM A NEWLY DISCOVERED ANGLO-SAXON SETTLEMENT?

    Night-hawkers may have stripped some of the most valuable artefacts from a newly discovered Anglo-Saxon royal settlement, archaeologists have warned.

    Coins found at the Rendlesham site: Last night the National Trust confirmed in a statement that the finds represented 'conclusive evidence of the existence of the long-lost Royal settlement at Rendlesham'

    The discovery of the high-status settlement on fields near the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk, was made public this week after more than five years of work.

    But as about 70 finds which point to a site of international significance go on show to the public, those behind the search said they had been forced to act by illegal metal-detector users scouring the site illegally.

    A plan has been put in place with Suffolk Police to protect what remains after the discovery was announced.

    Sir Michael Bunbury, who owns the farmland, said he had contacted local council archaeologists after becoming concerned about illegal night-time activity.

    He said: 'The sad thing is, it is impossible to know exactly what has been lost. We will never know what it was, where it is and it can't contribute to our wider understanding of this site.

    ' It is fair to speculate that some very valuable artefacts indeed have been removed and sold privately because of course that is exactly what night-hawkers are after.

    ' The good news is that, despite this criminal activity, there has still been a very significant find. By legitimately searching the site and putting the finds on public display, we have effectively put the problem on our land to a stop.

    ' Perhaps this is a lesson in how to put that kind of activity to a halt.'

    'The problem had escalated over three years with trails of foot prints and trenches appearing on Sir Michael's land, often soon after ploughing. They seemed to know what was going on on our land,' he added.

    ' It seemed like quite an organised operation supported by a degree of local knowledge. We are nervous about what might happen now the discovery is receiving publicity but we have a plan in place with the police so they will act at the first sign of a problem.'

    Judith Plouviez, the project manager and Suffolk County Council archaeologist, condemned the activity, saying: 'There were clearly people selling valuable objects which they had no right to do.'

    She added: 'It's always a problem when people dig things out of the ground illegally - they're tearing up pages of history and we will never be able to recover that.

    'It is particularly unfortunate here because those objects would have added to our knowledge of a very important site.'

    Hidden treasure: Archaeologists believe they have found an ancient royal settlement which once spread across more than 100 acres of what is now farmland at Naunton Hall in Rendlesham (pictured) near Woodbridge, Suffolk

    Despite the potential losses, archaeologist say the discoveries provide conclusive evidence of a long-lasting and major settlement.

    It is thought fragments of gold jewellery, Saxon pennies and weights associated with trade, are evidence of the 'the king's country-seat of Rendlesham' mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.

    Professor Christopher Scull, of Cardiff University and University College London said: 'The survey has identified a site of national and indeed international importance for the understanding of the Anglo-Saxon elite and their European connections.

    ' The quality of some of the metalwork leaves no doubt that it was made for and used by the highest ranks of society. These exceptional discoveries are truly significant in throwing new light on early East Anglia and the origins of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.'

    Sutton Hoo is the site of two 6th and early 7th century cemeteries, one of which contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of artefacts and is considered one of the great discoveries of the 20th century.

    It is widely believed that King Raedwald, ruler of the East Angles, was buried there.

    It has long been thought that King Raedwald's hall stood in Rendlesham. A team of legitimate metal-detector users have been working on the farmland for the last five years after Sir Michael called for assistance.

    Aerial photography, chemical analysis and geophysics were also used in the search, overseen by Suffolk County Council in conjunction with the National Trust.

    The newly discovered 50-hectare site is four miles north-east of Sutton Hoo
    No remains of any royal palace or buildings have been found but the fragments of jewellery and coins have convinced archaeologists that it was the site of a royal village.

    The items will go on display to the public at the Sutton Hoo visitor centre in an exhibition beginning on Saturday before being moved to Ipswich museum.


    RARE HAROLD II COINS

    "In the case of the Harold II coins, some will be from moneyers that we have not seen before.

    "Harold II coins are rarer than William coins and could be worth between £2,000 to £4,000 each.

    "The William I coins will be between £1,000 and £1,500.

    "This hoard could be worth between £3m and £5m."

    The expert added that while museums "have been buying up all of the hoards found, in this case the hoard may be too great for them.

    "It maybe that an appeal for sponsors is launched to try and acquire them."

    Mills said he believed the hoard had been buried in the ground within two or three years after 1066 and probably before 1072.

    "The Romans buried their coins for the Gods but in this case they were probably hidden and the owner died before they could go back for them.

    "It would have been a substantial amount of money back not. Not a king, but somebody high up and important, somebody of substance.

    "They didn't have banks back then so where else were they going to store their money safely?"

    Harold II coins are rarer than William coins and could be worth between £2,000 to £4,000 each.

    Nigel Mills, coin expert

    A spokesman for the Metal Detectives Group said: "When you find something like that you keep where you find it very quiet.

    "If it is treasure it will be put out to tender to museums to acquire. A museum and treasure valuation committee will give the hoard a value.

    "But you are talking a minimum of £500 per coin and with 2,500 coins that is a lot. But some will be rarer and more valuable than others."

    A spokesman for the British Museum said: "We can confirm that a large hoard of late Anglo-Saxon and Norman coins was discovered in January and has been handed in to the British Museum as possible Treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996).

    "This appears to be an important discovery."

    Although the find is smaller than the famous Staffordshire Hoard - the biggest collection of buried coins and artefacts discovered in Britain - it is thought to be at least £1m more valuable.

    What was the Staffordshire Hoard?

    The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, comprising over 4,000 items.

    Archaeologists believe it was buried during the 7th Century (600-699AD), at a time when the region was part of the Kingdom of Mercia.

    The hoard was jointly acquired by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham City Council after it was discovered by a metal detectorist in 2009, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

    Most gold objects found from the Anglo-Saxon era are pieces of jewellery such as brooches or pendants.

    However, the Staffordshire Hoard is unique in that it is almost entirely made up of war gear, especially sword fittings.

    Over 1,000 pieces are from a single, ornate helmet.

    It is the grandest example to have been found from the period and would have been fit for a king.

    Although most of the hoard pieces were parts of weapons and armour, they are still highly decorative.

    Many pieces feature elaborate designs made from filigree (twisted wire) and garnet inlays.

    The quality of the hoard means it was probably associated with leading figures from Anglo-Saxon aristocracy or royalty.

    But there's still a mystery over why the Staffordshire Hoard was buried.

    Many of the pieces are bent or warped. It looks like they were forcefully pulled to strip them away from the objects they were attached to.

    One theory is that the hoard is a collection of trophies from one or more battles, buried for safe-keeping or as an offering to pagan gods.

    The discovery is still transforming experts’ knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon era.


    7 Incredible Hoards Discovered in the Past 7 Years

    For thousands of years, people have buried their treasures to keep them safe from authorities and marauders or as offerings to the gods. Every now and then, someone is lucky enough to find one of these long-lost hoards. Here are seven of the best finds in the last seven years.

    1. The Staffordshire Hoard

    For sheer glamour, nothing can beat the Staffordshire Hoard, more than 4000 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and garnet-studded weapons fittings from the late 6th/early 7th century found by metal detectorist Terry Herbert near the village of Hammerwich, central England, in July 2009. The area was part of the Kingdom of Mercia when the treasure was buried. Dominated as it is by martial artifacts, the hoard was likely spoils of war buried either as a votive for the gods or to keep it safe for a later recovery that never happened. The discovery lends new insight into the sheer quantities of wealth owned by the Anglo-Saxon elite and into the skill of their craftsmen, who could make gold filigree wires one-fifth of a millimeter thick.

    2. The Le Catillon II Hoard

    The Le Catillon II Hoard was discovered in 2012 on the Channel Island of Jersey after three decades of searching by metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles. Thirty years of work were proven more than justified the Le Catillon II Hoard is the world's largest Celtic coin hoard with an estimated 70,000 Roman and Celtic coins from the 1st century BC. They were removed from the site in a solid block of soil weighing three quarters of a ton and are being painstakingly excavated behind a glass-walled laboratory in public view at the Jersey Museum. The hoard continues to reveal hidden surprises as the coins are removed—most recently six gold torcs.

    3. The Hackney Double Eagles

    Tere nce Castle discovered this hoard of 80 gold Double Eagles dating from 1854 to 1913 while he was digging a pond in his backyard in the Hackney borough of London in 2007. The coins were buried by the family of Martin Sulzbacher, a Jewish refugee from Germany, in the early days of World War I when the possibility of a German invasion and raids on banks loomed large. Upon his return from internment as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, Sulzbacher found his house destroyed and his extended family killed by a direct hit during the Blitz. His four children, also interned on the Isle of Man, survived the war, and his son Max, 81, claimed the hoard on April 18, 2011.

    4. The St. Albans Hoard

    One lucky a metal detectorist found these 159 Roman gold solidi in a field in St. Albans, southeastern England, in late 2012. Struck in Milan in the late 4th century, the coins bear the names and faces of the five different emperors who issued them—Gratian, Valentinian, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius—and are in exceptional condition. This is all the more remarkable considering that they had been scattered over the field by centuries of farming.

    5. The Beau Street Hoard

    In a departure from the norm, the Beau Street Hoard was discovered by actual archaeologists during a dig in Bath in 2007. More than 17,000 Roman coins, dating from 32 BC to 274 AD, had fused into one block of corrosion and soil and were excavated in the British Museum conservation lab. Conservators found that six bags of coins had been deposited in a square container. The container and bags rotted away centuries ago, but because the hoard was kept whole in its soil block, X-rays showed the coins still held the shape of their original bags.

    6. The Ruelzheim Treasure

    At the other extreme is the Roman gold and silver treasure from the early 5th century AD that was torn from the ground near Ruelzheim, southwestern Germany, by a looter. The artifacts—beautifully detailed leaf-shaped solid gold brooches and gold pyramids from a magistrate's ceremonial tunic, a solid silver bowl with gold accents and gemstones, a set of silver and gold statuettes, and fittings from an ancient curule chair—were only discovered by authorities in early 2014 when the looter tried to sell the artifacts on the black market. The curule chair, an incredibly rare survival that was apparently intact in the ground, fell apart when the looter yanked it out. Then he covered his tracks by destroying the find site.

    7. The Saddle Ridge Hoard

    Europe may have the lion's share of hoards, but the United States burst onto the scene in a big way in February 2013 when a couple walking their dog on their northern California property discovered 1427 gold coins buried in eight cans. The Saddle Ridge Hoard coins date from 1847 to 1894 and include some of the finest examples of their type known. Although theories about the hoard's origin proliferated—bank robbery! mint robbery! Black Bart's stagecoach banditry!—the way the coins were deposited over the course of years suggests they were the life savings of someone who didn't trust banks. Possibly on account of all the robberies.


    The oldest bottle of wine in the world remains unopened since the 4th Century

    The origin of man’s romance with wine apparently predates written records, hence no one is really sure as to when humans started getting drunk.

    Archaeology may be unaware of the precise date of the time humans first started cultivating grapevines, but the hypothesis is that early humans may have climbed on the trees to pick berries and possibly loved the sugary flavor and decided to store them for longer lasting pleasure.

    Speyer wine bottle.

    However, over time the fermentation would have set in at the bottom of the container, producing a liquid that was far more tasty and pleasurable than the berries they were eating.

    This theory of the origin of alcohol suggests that the real revolution in the fermentation of alcohol came about around 10,000 to 8,000 BC, when humans effectively made a shift from nomadic to a more sedentary style of living, giving more preference to agriculture which lead to the production of wine.

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    According to the archaeological records, the earliest available record of wine production is found to be in various sites in Georgia where the production was rampant in 6,000 BC, in Iran around 7,000 BC, and in Greece and Armenia around 4,500BC and 4,100 BC respectively.

    It is no secret that the respect given to a bottle of wine precisely depends on its age therefore, the older the bottle, the better taste it would generate.

    But of course, there is a limit to the ‘old age’ of the bottle and a bottle found in a Roman tomb near the Speyer region of Germany certainly breaks all known records of the oldest wine available on the planet the bottle is appropriately named as The Speyer Wine Bottle.

    The Speyer Wine Bottle was first discovered in a Roman tomb in Germany, and is likely to contain a fair amount of wine, and was found in 1867 from the Rhineland-Palatine region of Germany, which is the oldest settlement in the region.

    The artifact has since attracted the attention of historians and researchers and has attained the status of the world’s oldest existing bottle of wine.

    The wine bottle dates back to between 325 and 359 AD, and was discovered during an excavation at a 4th-century tomb of a Roman nobleman. It is the oldest known wine bottle which remains unopened.

    The Speyer Wine Bottle is housed in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer and is always displayed at the same location in the Tower Room.

    The bottle itself is of 1.5-liter volume and is a glass vessel with amphora-like sturdy shoulders, which are yellowish green in color with handles shaped in the form of dolphins.

    The nature of the wine in the bottle is also the subject of many speculations, and it has been suggested the most of the ethanol content of the wine has been lost, analyses have suggested that not all but at least some part of the liquid in the bottle has to be wine. According to the historians, the wine which was produced in the region around the time was diluted with a mixture of various herbs.

    The wine bottles were adequately preserved using a thick mixture of olive oil, which was used along with a thick wax seal to close the bottle, effectively protecting it from outside influence.

    Scientists have long tried to get permission to fully analyze the contents of the bottle by opening it, but as of 2011 the bottle remains unopened. Thus any detailed analysis isn’t possible at the moment.

    This is partly due to the concerns that the interaction of the liquid with the outside environment could potentially damage the content, rendering it useless for anyone.

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    The tomb that produced the wine bottle also contained two sarcophagi one holding the body of a woman and one a man.

    There are a number of stories regarding the nature of the nobleman, one theory suggests that the man was a Roman Legionnaire and the wine bottle was one of his provisions for his ‘celestial’ journey, as it was the custom around the time he must have been buried.


    Scientists discover 280-million-year-old fossil tracks in remote area of the Grand Canyon

    An international group of palaeontologists has united together to investigate significant fossil footprints found in a remote location of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

    A massive sandstone boulder contains many remarkably well-preserved trackways of ancient desert tetrapods (four-footed animals) which inhabited an ancient desert environment.

    Close-up view of the Ichniotherium trackway from Grand Canyon National Park.

    The 280-million-year-old fossil tracks date to almost the beginning of the Permian Period, prior to the appearance of the earliest dinosaurs.

    The first scientific article reporting fossil tracks from the Grand Canyon was published in 1918, just a year before the park was established as a unit of the National Park Service.

    One hundred years later, during the Centennial Celebration for Grand Canyon National Park, new research on ancient footprints from the park is being presented in a scientific publication released this week.

    Map of Arizona (southwestern USA), indicating the main localities mentioned in the text. The Grand Canyon National Park area is shaded dark brown (left). Stratigraphic section of the Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks exposed in the Grand Canyon area (right).

    Brazilian palaeontologist Dr. Heitor Francischini, from the Laboratory of Vertebrate Paleontology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, is the lead author of the new publication, working with scientists from Germany and the United States.

    Francischini and Dr. Spencer Lucas, Curator of Paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, New Mexico, first visited the Grand Canyon fossil track locality in 2017.

    The paleontologists immediately recognized the fossil tracks were produced by a long-extinct relative of very early reptiles and were similar to tracks known from Europe referred to as Ichniotherium (ICK-nee-oh-thay-ree-um).

    The track-bearing boulder (Coconino Sandstone), Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. General view of the boulder and the tracks (top). False color depth map (depth in mm) (bottom). Scale: 50 cm.

    This new discovery at Grand Canyon is the first occurrence of Ichniotherium from the Coconino Sandstone and from a desert environment. In addition, these tracks represent the geologically youngest record of this fossil track type from anywhere in the world.

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    Ichniotherium is a kind of footprint believed to have been made by an enigmatic group of extinct tetrapods known as the diadectomorphs. The diadectomorphs were a primitive group of tetrapods that possessed characteristics of both amphibians and reptiles.

    The evolutionary relationships and paleobiology of diadectomorphs have long been important and unresolved questions in the science of vertebrate paleontology.

    Although the actual track maker for the Grand Canyon footprints may never be known for certain, the Grand Canyon trackways preserve the travel of a very early terrestrial vertebrate.

    The measurable characteristics of the tracks and trackways indicate a primitive animal with short legs and a massive body. The creature walked on all four legs and each foot possessed five clawless digits.

    Another interesting aspect of the new Grand Canyon fossil tracks is the geologic formation in which they are preserved. The Coconino Sandstone is an eolian (wind-deposited) rock formation that exhibits cross-bedding and other sedimentary features indicating a desert / dune environment of deposition.

    Therefore, the presence of Ichniotherium in the Coconino Sandstone is the earliest evidence of diadectomorphs occupying an arid desert environment.

    Artwork depicting the Coconino desert environment and two primitive tetrapods, based on the occurrence of Ichniotherium from Grand Canyon National Park.

    According to Francischini, “These new fossil tracks discovered in Grand Canyon National Park provide important information about the paleobiology of the diadectomorphs.

    The diadectomorphs were not expected to live in an arid desert environment, because they supposedly did not have the classic adaptations for being completely independent of water. The group of animals that have such adaptations is named Amniota (extant reptiles, birds and mammals) and diadectomorphs are not one of them.”

    Lucas also notes that “paleontologists have long thought that only amniotes could live in the dry and harsh Permian deserts. This discovery shows that tetrapods other than reptiles were living in those deserts, and, surprisingly, were already adapted to life in an environment of limited water.”

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    During 2019, in recognition of the Grand Canyon National Park Centennial #GrandCanyon100, the National Park Service is undertaking a comprehensive paleontological resource inventory for the park.

    According to National Park Service Senior Paleontologist Vincent Santucci, “A distinguished team of specialists in geology and palaeontology will participate in fieldwork and research to help expand our understanding of the rich fossil record preserved at Grand Canyon National Park.”


    Contents

    The word "cocoa" comes from the Spanish word cacao, which is derived from the Nahuatl word cacahuatl. [2] [3] The Nahuatl word, in turn, ultimately derives from the reconstructed Proto Mije-Sokean word kakawa. [4]

    The term cocoa also means

    • the drink that also is commonly called hot cocoa or hot chocolate[5] , which is the dry powder made by grinding cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids, which are dark and bitter
    • a mixture of cocoa powder and cocoa butter – a primitive form of chocolate. [6][7]

    The cacao tree is native to Mexico. It was first domesticated 5,300 years ago, in equatorial South America, before being domesticated in Central America by the Olmecs (Mexico). More than 4,000 years ago, it was consumed by pre-Hispanic cultures along the Yucatán, including the Maya, and as far back as Olmeca civilization in spiritual ceremonies. It also grows in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, in Colombia and Venezuela. Wild cacao still grows there. Its range may have been larger in the past evidence of its wild range may be obscured by cultivation of the tree in these areas since long before the Spanish arrived.

    As of November 2018, evidence suggests that cacao was first domesticated in equatorial South America, before being domesticated in Central America roughly 1,500 years later. [8] Artifacts found at Santa-Ana-La Florida, in Ecuador, indicate that the Mayo-Chinchipe people were cultivating cacao as long as 5,300 years ago. [8] Chemical analysis of residue extracted from pottery excavated at an archaeological site at Puerto Escondido, in Honduras, indicates that cocoa products were first consumed there sometime between 1500 and 1400 BC. Evidence also indicates that, long before the flavor of the cacao seed (or bean) became popular, the sweet pulp of the chocolate fruit, used in making a fermented (5.34% alcohol) beverage, first drew attention to the plant in the Americas. [9] The cocoa bean was a common currency throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest. [10] : 2

    Cacao trees grow in a limited geographical zone, of about 20° to the north and south of the Equator. Nearly 70% of the world crop today is grown in West Africa. The cacao plant was first given its botanical name by Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus in his original classification of the plant kingdom, where he called it Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao.

    Cocoa was an important commodity in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. A Spanish soldier who was part of the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés tells that when Moctezuma II, emperor of the Aztecs, dined, he took no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet. Flavored with vanilla or other spices, his chocolate was whipped into a froth that dissolved in the mouth. No fewer than 60 portions each day reportedly may have been consumed by Moctezuma II, and 2,000 more by the nobles of his court. [11]

    Chocolate was introduced to Europe by the Spaniards, and became a popular beverage by the mid-17th century. [12] Spaniards also introduced the cacao tree into the West Indies and the Philippines. [13] It was also introduced into the rest of Asia, South Asia and into West Africa by Europeans. In the Gold Coast, modern Ghana, cacao was introduced by a Ghanaian, Tetteh Quarshie.

    The three main varieties of cocoa plant are Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. The first is the most widely used, comprising 80–90% of the world production of cocoa. Cocoa beans of the Criollo variety are rarer and considered a delicacy. [14] [15] Criollo also tend to be less resistant to several diseases that attack the cocoa plant, hence very few countries still produce it. One of the largest producers of Criollo beans is Venezuela (Chuao and Porcelana). Trinitario (from Trinidad) is a hybrid between Criollo and Forastero varieties. It is considered to be of much higher quality than Forastero, has higher yields, and is more resistant to disease than Criollo. [15]

    A cocoa pod (fruit) is about 17 to 20 cm (6.7 to 7.9 in) long and has a rough, leathery rind about 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 in) thick (this varies with the origin and variety of pod) filled with sweet, mucilaginous pulp (called baba de cacao in South America) with a lemonade-like taste enclosing 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and a pale lavender to dark brownish purple color.

    During harvest, the pods are opened, the seeds are kept, and the empty pods are discarded and the pulp made into juice. The seeds are placed where they can ferment. Due to heat buildup in the fermentation process, cacao beans lose most of the purplish hue and become mostly brown in color, with an adhered skin which includes the dried remains of the fruity pulp. This skin is released easily by winnowing after roasting. White seeds are found in some rare varieties, usually mixed with purples, and are considered of higher value. [16] [17]

    Harvesting Edit

    Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the Equator. Cocoa harvest is not restricted to one period per year and a harvest typically occurs over several months. In fact, in many countries, cocoa can be harvested at any time of the year. [10] Pesticides are often applied to the trees to combat capsid bugs, and fungicides to fight black pod disease. [18]

    Immature cocoa pods have a variety of colours, but most often are green, red, or purple, and as they mature, their colour tends towards yellow or orange, particularly in the creases. [10] [19] Unlike most fruiting trees, the cacao pod grows directly from the trunk or large branch of a tree rather than from the end of a branch, similar to jackfruit. This makes harvesting by hand easier as most of the pods will not be up in the higher branches. The pods on a tree do not ripen together harvesting needs to be done periodically through the year. [10] Harvesting occurs between three and four times weekly during the harvest season. [10] The ripe and near-ripe pods, as judged by their colour, are harvested from the trunk and branches of the cocoa tree with a curved knife on a long pole. Care must be used when cutting the stem of the pod to avoid damaging the junction of the stem with the tree, as this is where future flowers and pods will emerge. [10] [20] One person can harvest an estimated 650 pods per day. [18] [21]

    Harvest processing Edit

    The harvested pods are opened, typically with a machete, to expose the beans. [10] [18] The pulp and cocoa seeds are removed and the rind is discarded. The pulp and seeds are then piled in heaps, placed in bins, or laid out on grates for several days. During this time, the seeds and pulp undergo "sweating", where the thick pulp liquefies as it ferments. The fermented pulp trickles away, leaving cocoa seeds behind to be collected. Sweating is important for the quality of the beans, [22] which originally have a strong, bitter taste. If sweating is interrupted, the resulting cocoa may be ruined if underdone, the cocoa seed maintains a flavor similar to raw potatoes and becomes susceptible to mildew. Some cocoa-producing countries distill alcoholic spirits using the liquefied pulp. [23]

    A typical pod contains 30 to 40 beans and about 400 dried beans are required to make one pound (454 grams) of chocolate. Cocoa pods weigh an average of 400 g (14 oz) and each one yields 35 to 40 g (1.2 to 1.4 oz) dried beans this yield is 9–10% of the total weight in the pod. [18] One person can separate the beans from about 2000 pods per day. [18] [21]

    The wet beans are then transported to a facility so they can be fermented and dried. [18] [21] The farmer removes the beans from the pods, packs them into boxes or heaps them into piles, then covers them with mats or banana leaves for three to seven days. [24] Finally, the beans are trodden and shuffled about (often using bare human feet) and sometimes, during this process, red clay mixed with water is sprinkled over the beans to obtain a finer color, polish, and protection against molds during shipment to factories in other countries. Drying in the sun is preferable to drying by artificial means, as no extraneous flavors such as smoke or oil are introduced which might otherwise taint the flavor.

    The beans should be dry for shipment, which is usually by sea. Traditionally exported in jute bags, over the last decade, beans are increasingly shipped in "mega-bulk" parcels of several thousand tonnes at a time on ships, or standardized to 62.5 kg per bag and 200 (12.5mt) or 240 (15mt) bags per 20-ft container. Shipping in bulk significantly reduces handling costs shipment in bags, however, either in a ship's hold or in containers, is still common.

    Throughout Mesoamerica where they are native, cocoa beans are used for a variety of foods. The harvested and fermented beans may be ground to-order at tiendas de chocolate, or chocolate mills. At these mills, the cocoa can be mixed with a variety of ingredients such as cinnamon, chili peppers, almonds, vanilla, and other spices to create drinking chocolate. [25] The ground cocoa is also an important ingredient in tejate.

    Child slavery Edit

    The first allegations that child slavery is used in cocoa production appeared in 1998. [26] In late 2000, a BBC documentary reported the use of enslaved children in the production of cocoa in West Africa. [26] [27] [28] Other media followed by reporting widespread child slavery and child trafficking in the production of cocoa. [29] [30]

    Child labour was growing in some West African countries in 2008–09 when it was estimated that 819,921 children worked on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast alone by the year 2013–14, the number went up to 1,303,009. During the same period in Ghana, the estimated number of children working on cocoa farms was 957,398 children. [31]

    Attempt at reform Edit

    The cocoa industry was accused of profiting from child slavery and trafficking. [32] The Harkin–Engel Protocol is an effort to end these practices. [33] It was signed and witnessed by the heads of eight major chocolate companies, US senators Tom Harkin and Herb Kohl, US Representative Eliot Engel, the ambassador of the Ivory Coast, the director of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor, and others. [33] It has, however, been criticized by some groups including the International Labor Rights Forum as an industry initiative which falls short, as the goal to eliminate the “worst forms of child labor” from cocoa production by 2005 was not reached. [34] [35] [36] [37] The deadline was extended multiple times and the goal changed to a 70% child labor reduction. [38] [39]

    As of 2017, approximately 2.1 million children in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire were involved in harvesting cocoa, carrying heavy loads, clearing forests, and being exposed to pesticides. [40] According to Sona Ebai, the former secretary general of the Alliance of Cocoa Producing Countries: "I think child labor cannot be just the responsibility of industry to solve. I think it's the proverbial all-hands-on-deck: government, civil society, the private sector. And there, you really need leadership." [41] Reported in 2018, a 3-year pilot program, conducted by Nestlé with 26,000 farmers mostly located in Côte d'Ivoire, observed a 51% decrease in the number of children doing hazardous jobs in cocoa farming. [42] The US Department of Labor formed the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group as a public-private partnership with the governments of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire to address child labor practices in the cocoa industry. [43]

    Cocoa bean production, 2017 [44]
    Country Weight (tonnes)
    Ivory Coast 2,034,000
    Ghana 883,652
    Indonesia 659,776
    Nigeria 328,263
    Cameroon 295,028
    Brazil 235,809
    Ecuador 205,955
    World 5,201,108

    In 2017, world production of cocoa beans was 5.2 million tonnes, led by Ivory Coast with 38% of the total. Other major producers were Ghana (17%) and Indonesia (13%).

    As of 2019, over 75% of cocoa produced worldwide comes from West Africa, specifically Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Côte d'Ivoire alone produces more than 40% of cocoa beans grown throughout the world. [45] Production in Ghana might be undercounted as producers can get a better price for cocoa beans by smuggling them to Côte d'Ivoire, where the minimum price per kilo is $1.55, as set by the Conseil du Café-Cacao. [46]

    Only about 20% of global cocoa bean grindings take place in West Africa the majority are sent to Europe, Asia and North America for grinding. [45]

    Cocoa beans from Ghana are traditionally shipped and stored in burlap sacks, in which the beans are susceptible to pest attacks. [47] Fumigation with methyl bromide was to be phased out globally by 2015. Additional cocoa protection techniques for shipping and storage include the application of pyrenoids as well as hermetic storage in sealed bags or containers with lowered oxygen concentrations. [48] Safe long-term storage facilitates the trading of cocoa products at commodity exchanges.

    Cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cocoa powder are traded on futures markets. The London market is based on West African cocoa and New York on cocoa predominantly from Southeast Asia. Cocoa is the world's smallest soft commodity market. The futures price of cocoa butter and cocoa powder is determined by multiplying the bean price by a ratio. The combined butter and powder ratio has tended to be around 3.5. If the combined ratio falls below 3.2 or so, production ceases to be economically viable and some factories cease extraction of butter and powder and trade exclusively in cocoa liquor.

    The global surplus and deficit of cocoa varies year by year, while the overall production and grindings steadily increase. [45] These fluctuations affect the price of cocoa and every participant in the global cocoa supply chain. [45]

    Multiple international and national initiatives collaborate to support sustainable cocoa production. These include the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO), the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO), and Beyond Chocolate, Belgium. A memorandum between these three initiatives was signed in 2020 to measure and address issues including child labor, living income, deforestation and supply chain transparency. [49] Similar partnerships between cocoa producing and consuming countries are being developed, such as the cooperation between the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and the Ghanaian Cocoa Authority, who aim to increase the proportion of sustainable cocoa being imported from Ghana to Switzerland to 80% by 2025. [50] The ICCO is engaged in projects around the world to support sustainable cocoa production and provide current information on the world cocoa market. [51]

    Voluntary sustainability standards Edit

    There are numerous voluntary certifications including Fairtrade and UTZ (now part of Rainforest Alliance) for cocoa which aim to differentiate between conventional cocoa production and that which is more sustainable in terms of social, economic and environmental concerns. As of 2016, at least 29% of global cocoa production was compliant with voluntary sustainability standards. [52] However, among the different certifications there are significant differences in their goals and approaches, and a lack of data to show and compare the results on the farm level. While certifications can lead to increased farm income, the premium price paid for certified cocoa by consumers is not always reflected proportionally in the income for farmers. In 2012 the ICCO found that farm size mattered significantly when determining the benefits of certifications, and that farms an area less than 1ha were less likely to benefit from such programs, while those with slightly larger farms as well as access to member co-ops and the ability to improve productivity were most likely to benefit from certification. [53] Certification often requires high up front costs, which are a barrier to small farmers, and particularly, female farmers. The primary benefits to certification include improving conservation practices and reducing the use of agrochemicals, business support through cooperatives and resource sharing, and a higher price for cocoa beans which can improve the standard of living for farmers. [54]

    Fair trade cocoa producer groups are established in Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, the Congo, [55] Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, [56] Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, India, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sierra Leone, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

    In 2018, the Beyond Chocolate partnership was created between multiple stakeholders in the global cocoa industry to decrease deforestation and provide a living income for cocoa farmers. The many international companies are currently participating in this agreement and the following voluntary certification programs are also partners in the Beyond Chocolate initiative: Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, ISEAL, BioForum Vlaanderen. [57]

    Many major chocolate production companies around the world have started to prioritize buying fair trade cocoa by investing in fair trade cocoa production, improving fair trade cocoa supply chains and setting purchasing goals to increase the proportion of fair trade chocolate available in the global market. [58] [59] [60] [61] [62]

    The Rainforest Alliance lists the following goals as part of their certification program:

      and sustainable land management
    • Improve rural livelihoods to reduce poverty
    • Address human rights issues such as child labor, gender inequality and indigenous land rights

    The UTZ Certified-program (now part of Rainforest Alliance) included counteracting against child labor and exploitation of cocoa workers, requiring a code of conduct in relation to social and environmentally friendly factors, and improvement of farming methods to increase profits and salaries of farmers and distributors. [63]

    Environmental impact Edit

    The relative poverty of many cocoa farmers means that environmental consequences such as deforestation are given little significance. For decades, cocoa farmers have encroached on virgin forest, mostly after the felling of trees by logging companies. This trend has decreased as many governments and communities are beginning to protect their remaining forested zones. [64] However, deforestation due to cocoa production is still a major concern in parts of West Africa. In Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, barriers to land ownership have led migrant workers and farmers without financial resources to buy land to illegally expand their cocoa farming in protected forests. Many cocoa farmers in this region continue to prioritize expansion of their cocoa production, which often leads to deforestation. [65]

    Sustainable agricultural practices such as utilizing cover crops to prepare the soil before planting and intercropping cocoa seedlings with companion plants can support cocoa production and benefit the farm ecosystem. Prior to planting cocoa, leguminous cover crops can improve the soil nutrients and structure, which are important in areas where cocoa is produced due to high heat and rainfall which can diminish soil quality. Plantains are often intercropped with cocoa to provide shade to young seedlings and improve drought resilience of the soil. If the soil lacks essential nutrients, compost or animal manure can improve soil fertility and help with water retention. [66]

    In general, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by cocoa farmers is limited. When cocoa bean prices are high, farmers may invest in their crops, leading to higher yields which, in turn tends to result in lower market prices and a renewed period of lower investment.

    While governments and NGOs have made efforts to help cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire sustainably improve crop yields, many of the educational and financial resources provided are more readily available to male farmers versus female farmers. Access to credit is important for cocoa farmers, as it allows them to implement sustainable practices, such as agroforestry, and provide a financial buffer in case disasters like pest or weather patterns decrease crop yield. [65]

    Cocoa production is likely to be affected in various ways by the expected effects of global warming. Specific concerns have been raised concerning its future as a cash crop in West Africa, the current centre of global cocoa production. If temperatures continue to rise, West Africa could simply become unfit to grow the beans. [67] [68]

    Cocoa beans also have a potential to be used as a bedding material in farms for cows. Using cocoa bean husks in bedding material for cows may contribute to udder health (less bacterial growth) and ammonia levels (lower ammonia levels on bedding). [69]

    Agroforestry Edit

    Cocoa beans may be cultivated under shade, as done in agroforestry. Agroforestry can reduce the pressure on existing protected forests for resources, such as firewood, and conserve biodiversity. [70] Integrating shade trees with cocoa plants reduces risk of soil erosion and evaporation, and protects young cocoa plants from extreme heat. [66] Agroforests act as buffers to formally protected forests and biodiversity island refuges in an open, human-dominated landscape. Research of their shade-grown coffee counterparts has shown that greater canopy cover in plots is significantly associated with greater mammal species diversity. [71] The amount of diversity in tree species is fairly comparable between shade-grown cocoa plots and primary forests. [72]

    Farmers can grow a variety of fruit-bearing shade trees to supplement their income to help cope with the volatile cocoa prices. [73] Although cocoa has been adapted to grow under a dense rainforest canopy, agroforestry does not significantly further enhance cocoa productivity. [74] However, while growing cocoa in full sun without incorporating shade plants can temporarily increase cocoa yields, it will eventually decrease the quality of the soil due to nutrient loss, desertification and erosion, leading to unsustainable yields and dependency on inorganic fertilizers. Agroforestry practices stabilize and improve soil quality, which can sustain cocoa production in the long term. [65]

    Over time, cocoa agroforestry systems become more similar to forest, although they never fully recover the original forest community within the life cycle of a productive cocoa plantation (approximately 25 years). [75] Thus, although cocoa agroforests cannot replace natural forests, they are a valuable tool for conserving and protecting biodiversity while maintaining high levels of productivity in agricultural landscapes. [75]

    In West Africa, where about 70% of global cocoa supply originates from smallholder farmers, recent public–private initiatives such as the Cocoa Forest Initiatives in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire (World Cocoa Foundation, 2017) and the Green Cocoa Landscape Programme in Cameroon (IDH, 2019) aim to support the sustainable intensification and climate resilience of cocoa production, the prevention of further deforestation and the restoration of degraded forests. [75] They often align with national REDD+ policies and plans. [75]

    Consumption Edit

    People around the world enjoy cocoa in many different forms, consuming more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans yearly. Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, fermented, dried and transported they are processed in several components. Processor grindings serve as the main metric for market analysis. Processing is the last phase in which consumption of the cocoa bean can be equitably compared to supply. After this step all the different components are sold across industries to many manufacturers of different types of products.

    Global market share for processing has remained stable, even as grindings increase to meet demand. One of the largest processing country by volume is the Netherlands, handling around 13% of global grindings. Europe and Russia as a whole handle about 38% of the processing market. Average year after year demand growth has been just over 3% since 2008. While Europe and North America are relatively stable markets, increasing household income in developing countries is the main reason of the stable demand growth. As demand is awaited to keep growing, supply growth may slow down due to changing weather conditions in the largest cocoa production areas. [76]

    To make 1 kg (2.2 lb) of chocolate, about 300 to 600 beans are processed, depending on the desired cocoa content. In a factory, the beans are roasted. Next, they are cracked and then deshelled by a "winnower". The resulting pieces of beans are called nibs. They are sometimes sold in small packages at specialty stores and markets to be used in cooking, snacking, and chocolate dishes. Since nibs are directly from the cocoa tree, they contain high amounts of theobromine. Most nibs are ground, using various methods, into a thick, creamy paste, known as chocolate liquor or cocoa paste. This "liquor" is then further processed into chocolate by mixing in (more) cocoa butter and sugar (and sometimes vanilla and lecithin as an emulsifier), and then refined, conched and tempered. Alternatively, it can be separated into cocoa powder and cocoa butter using a hydraulic press or the Broma process. This process produces around 50% cocoa butter and 50% cocoa powder. Cocoa powder may have a fat content of about 12%, [77] but this varies significantly. [78] Cocoa butter is used in chocolate bar manufacture, other confectionery, soaps, and cosmetics.

    Treating with an alkali produces Dutch process cocoa, which is less acidic, darker, and more mellow in flavor than untreated cocoa. Regular (nonalkalized) cocoa is acidic, so when cocoa is treated with an alkaline ingredient, generally potassium carbonate, the pH increases. [79] This process can be done at various stages during manufacturing, including during nib treatment, liquor treatment, or press cake treatment.

    Another process that helps develop the flavor is roasting, which can be done on the whole bean before shelling or on the nib after shelling. The time and temperature of the roast affect the result: A "low roast" produces a more acid, aromatic flavor, while a high roast gives a more intense, bitter flavor lacking complex flavor notes. [80]


    Treasure hunters find Anglo-Saxon silver coins worth £1m in Buckinghamshire

    A group of metal detector enthusiasts has made the most of the festive period by unearthing a huge hoard of silver coins dating back to the Anglo- Saxon period on a farm near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire.

    Over 100 enthusiasts from all over the UK were attending a Christmas gathering organised by the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club on 21 December when one member discovered the hoard of 5,251 (and a half) silver coins buried 2ft down in a field.

    The hoard was buried in a metal container. A Buckinghamshire council archaeologist who had been invited on the expedition was able to help excavate the coins.

    The hole in the ground where the steel container of coins was found Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club

    "The metal detectorists weren't expecting to find such a huge hoard, on some days you find very little, sometimes you find many individual items," Brett Thorn, keeper of archaeology at Buckinghamshire County Museum told IBTimes UK.

    "This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain, and when the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried."

    For now, the coins have been sent to the British Museum to be cleaned, analysed and then identified. Next, a coroner will decide if the coin hoard is legally considered to be "treasure".

    If the hoard is considered to be treasure, than museums will have an opportunity to buy it. But only museums local to the area or a national museum will be allowed to purchase the coins for its collection.

    "We acquire treasure items all the time and they're usually a couple of hundred pounds that we raise through local grants. But this is much bigger than that. In the museum collection we have over 4,000 Roman coins, but only about 100 Anglo- Saxon coins," said Thorn.

    "We know that there was a royal mint in Buckingham operated on and off in the late Anglo- Saxon times and we have a single coin that is similar to the ones that were found."

    While it is not yet known whether the coins were made at the Anglo-Saxon mint in Buckinghamshire, preliminary analysis of the silver coins shows that they came from the reigns of two Anglo-Saxon kings: Ethelred the Unready (978-1016 CE) and King Cnut (more commonly known as Canute – 1016-1035 CE).

    Peter Welch, founder of the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club, says that the coin hoard find is one of the most successful in the club's history, which spans 25 years.

    A total of 5,251 silver Anglo-Saxon coins were found. Between 500-600 coins were placed by the excavators into each bags for transport Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club

    "The dig started at 9:30am and around 10am that's when someone came and alerted me that a hoard had been found and that I needed to come quickly. It took us the whole day to excavate the steel container from the ground," he told IBTimes UK.

    "At first we thought they were mirrors, as usually when you see a coin that's been in the ground for many years and turned over and moved through the soil, you see various fine scratchings on it under a microscope.

    "But because these coins were in a container, they weren't moved at all and the person who put them in the ground was the last person to touch them."

    According to estimates made using the Seaby's Coin Catalogue, an annual book that valuates coins found in England, the club believes each silver coin could be worth about £250 – making the horde worth £1m in total. Although it could be more valuable, as the some of the coins are larger than others.

    Welch, who offers metal detecting days out and metal detecting holiday packages, says that nowadays many archaeological finds are being made by metal detectorists in the UK.

    "Metal detecting has been going on for over 40 years in this country and as technology has developed, metal detectors have become more sophisticated and we have the chance to find more discoveries than ever before," he said.

    "The main reason that finds are being made in this country is that farmers are giving us permission to find stuff, so we need as many farmers and land owners as possible to contact us so that we can discover what lies beneath the ground."

    According to the Treasure Act 1996, any items found in England and Wales is the property of the owner of the land it was found on. However, metal detector enthusiasts often come to agreements with landowners to split the revenue from the sale of treasure they find. However, if the coroner declares the find to be "treasure", the items belong to the Crown. Museums will then raise funds to buy the items, and only if no museum buys the treasure can the landowner, or its finder, keep it.


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