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500 lei 2001 - Pietroasa Hoard
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500 lei 2001 set - Pietroasa Hoard
8 mm sided octagon, 11.75 mm circumscribed circle radius, 6.22 grams, gold 99.9%, flat edge
Obverse: Romania, year 2001, face value 500 LEI, Romanian coat of arms inside a circular medallion adorned with a double wavy line (model inspired from the adornment of the great tray
Reverse: inscription "TEZAURUL DE LA PIETROASA" meaning "HOARD OF PIETROASA", inner linear circle and pieces from the hoard: the great fibula (the hen, lower left), the medium fibulae (the chicks - upper left), the decagonal vessel - lower right, the oenochoe vessel - upper right

About the Pietroasa Hoard

The hoard of Pietroasa (today the village is named Pietroasele) was discovered in 1837 on the Istrița hill by four villagers. The hoard comprises 22 pieces, some adorned with gems. When the authorities heard about and the hoard was confiscated, 10 pieces already disappeared, probably being melted. The hoard comprises a great tray, that was cut in four by the villagers that shared the gold between them (the tray have 54.5 centimeters in diameter and weight over 7 kilograms), a patera (a shallow circular bowl used for libations - have 25 centimeters in diameter) with pagan gods representations, an octagonal vessel, a decagonal vessel, an oenochoe vessel, an urn, a ring and some fibulae. The remaining pieces of the hoard weight over 18 kilos.

The patera and the oenochoe vessel are crafted in classical Hellenistic style. The other pieces are characterized by the insertion of the gems in the body of the objects, a setting technique characteristic to the peoples of the Pontic steppe (information from the book "History of Plastic Arts in Romania, in Romanian, Bucharest, 1968, edition responsible: George Oprescu, member of the Romanian Academy).

The hoard was own by a Germanic people, being attributed to the Visigoths or maybe to the Ostrogoths. Was cached in the 4th century AD. In the book "History of the Romanians" (Istoria românilor) by Constantin C. Giurescu and Dinu C. Giurescu is mentioned the hypothesis that the hoard belonged to Athanaric, chieftain of the Visigoths. In 376 king Athanaric was retreated in a place named Caucaland - possibly the actual zone of Buzău - in front of the Huns pressure (deeds recorded by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus in the book Rerum gestarum libri). In the book "History of the Romanians" is also described a runic inscription on the ring: "Guthâni Ocwi Hailag", translated as "to Odin blessed country" or maybe "of the Goths sacred propriety I am".

The hoard is known by his popular name, "The hen with golden chicks" due to a physical resemblance of the fibulae with some birds (at least the great fibula has the top shaped as an eagle).

About fibulae and about oenochoe vessel

Fibula was used in the antiquity as a brooch or safety-pin for fastening garments, as a substitute for buttons. Usual fibula have a bow-shaped head and a pin. Some fibulae also have pendants.

Oenochoe of oinochoe is a deep wine jug, with a graceful aspect, having a trefoil-shaped mouth. avînd gura trilobată, formă care înlesnește turnarea vinului. The name of this jug comes from Greek, being originated in the word oinos meaning wine.

About the stealing of the Pietroasa hoard in 1875

On November 20th 1875 the recidivist stealer Pantazescu was hided in the Library of the Senate, there was just over the room of the National Museum in which the "Hen" was exhibited (both institution being placed inside the Palace of the University, building also represented on a Romanian anniversary coin: 500 lei 2004). The stealer drill a hole in the floor with a borer, introduced an umbrella in the hole and enlarged the hole enough to pass through. Because that night was blizzard, the sentinel that guard the museum don't heard anything, the debris falling inside the open umbrella. The stealer descended in the museum with a rope, taking all the Pietroasa hoard pieces. The next day Pantazescu left the building with the gold pieces tied in his pants legs. The stealer was caught after few days, being convicted for 6 years for robbery. Was shot to death in an escape attempt.

About the sequestration of the Pietroasa hoard in USSR

In September 1916 the Romanian govern was moved from Bucharest to Iași, after the collapse of the front line. The National Bank of Romania was also moved to Iași, with all its deposits. Because the possibility that the Central Powers can occupy Moldavia is a real one, in December the part of the Romanian national treasury that guaranteed the bancnotes circulation - 314 millions gold lei - was evacuated to Moscow. In July 1917 the constrained the Romanian govern to evacuate in Russia values of 1.600 millions lei, between them the hoard of Pietroasa. After WWI the Soviets refused to return the treasury, because the Romanian "imperialist" govern oppress the working people.

A very small part of the Romanian treasury have returned at Bucharest. The 12 pieces of the Pietroasa hoard come back in Romania in 1956.

The gold coins set pictures above are present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of Mr. Radu Lissner.

The History of gold series comprises four pieces of 500 lei from 2001 featuring the golden cache of Pietroasa, three 100 lei coins from 1999 (and from 2002 and 2003 too) with the Dacian helmet of Poiana-Coțofenești, from 2003 with an eagle from Apahida, from 2004 with the Cantacuzinian engolpion and several of 10 new lei from 2005 with the Perșinari hoard, from 2006 with the Cucuteni-Băiceni hoard, from 2007 with the rhyton of Poroina and from 2008 with the Hinova hoard.

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