While on vacation in an ancient seaside resort town called Sozòpol, on the southern Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, a man went for a dive in the sea. As he swam in the shallow waters, something glittering on the sea floor caught his eye. The amateur diver swam down to investigate. There he found a coin that looked pretty old. Curious, the diver grabbed the coin and brought it back to shore. He had no idea that he’d just discovered the oldest coin ever found in Bulgaria.
Former diver and current head of the National History Museum in Sofia, Bozhidar Dimitrov, later acquired the coin. At the museum, numismatist Vladimir Penchev helped date and identify the piece. According to Penchev, the coin was produced in Western Anatolia, which was located on the Aegean coast, of what is now Turkey. The coin looks to have been minted during the second half of the seventh century BCE in the kingdom of Lydia—making the coin at least 2,750 years old!
During that time, Sozòpol was part of a Greek city-state known as Miletus. Lydia and Miletus were neighbors in Western Anatolia. So it makes sense that a coin from the kingdom of Lydia would be found in Sozòpol. Still, according to Penchev, it’s the first coin of this kind ever discovered in Bulgaria.
The ancient coin is made of electrum, which was a common metal for ancient coins. The silver-gold alloy occurs naturally, and was easy for early coin minters to work with. The coin weighs .63 grams, and its denomination is 1/24 of a stater, which was a Greek coin. Though the current value of this coin has not yet been determined, it is certainly worth more than its intended denomination all those years ago.
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