Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Amateur finds golden hoard

BMW engineer Nadine Ross had taken a vacation from her native England to volunteer for a month at an archaeological dig in Jerusalem. In the last week of her stay, after helping find some pottery and glass of mild interest, she probed under a large rock in a parking area. She came up with nearly 300 beautifully preserved golden coins from the 7th century A.D.
The dig's Israeli supervisor told the press, "This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem - certainly the largest and most important of its period." The coins show the Roman Emperor Heraclius, who was believed in his era to have restored the True Cross of Christ to its native city after it had been carried away by Persian attackers.
COMMENT: I never tire of stories of dedicated amateurs who make important advances for science, whether the story involves a presumed-extinct frog, an ancient tomb, or a new asteroid. The recent focus on science as something done by large teams from well-funded institutions (think the Large Hadron Collider or the Mars rovers) can obscure the fact that science is people - professional and amateur.

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