Buried Treasure: Alaric's Gold

In 410 AD Alaric and his Visigoths sacked Rome.

Back when I was in high school, that date marked the Fall of the Roman Empire. Next came the Dark Ages, followed by the Middle Ages (they began in 800, with Charlemagne being crowned Holy Roman Emperor) and Modern Europe (1492—you know that date).

Do you suppose anyone noticed at the time?

Did people in 411 wake up in the morning, roll over and say, “I might as well go back to sleep. It’s the Dark Ages, after all.”

Did teenagers in 1493 roll their eyes and say, “Honestly, Mother, get with it. This is the Modern World, you know.”

But I digress. (I do that a lot.)

What I intended to talk about was Alaric’s treasure. After all, Rome may not have been in its heyday any more in 410, but it was still Rome, the most famous city in the world. That meant there was plenty of treasure up for grabs by anyone who sacked the city.

No one knows exactly what Alaric carried off from Rome. He and his Goths—not just an army, but entire families and everything they owned—continued on south, looking for a place to settle.

They had trouble finding such a place. The natives weren’t exactly friendly, and the Goths, accustomed to northern climes, probably found southern Italy too hot for comfort in more ways than one.

Then Alaric died.

He had moved down to Calabria, and was thinking about heading for Africa, which provided the grain that fed Rome. Before he could do so, he succumbed to a fever.

Legend has it that the Goths diverted the river Busento, buried Alaric in the riverbed along with all the spoils from Rome, and then allowed the river to resume its course.


Neither Alaric's grave nor his treasure were ever seen again.

It’s not that no one has looked. People have been treasure hunting ever since, and as recently as the end of the 19th century, the English author George Gissing had a try. However, no one has had any success.

It’s possible that there never was any treasure to find. The Goths may have been too practical to consign a vast treasure to a grave.

On the other hand, rivers change their course over the centuries, especially in terrain subject to earthquakes.

Maybe the gold is still there.

Maybe some farmer will go to plow a field tomorrow and dig up all the wealth of ancient Rome.

Who knows?

The drawing of the burial of Alaric by Heinrich Leutemann is a public domain image from Ridpath's Universal History, 1895.


When I was a kid, I was so

When I was a kid, I was so excited about these hidden treasures and the expeditions to retrieve these treasures. But magicard rio pro over the time I understood that even if you find these treasures you only get to keep a small percentage of it.

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