It’s not always archaeologists who make the greatest archaeological discoveries. Sometimes it’s regular people going about their business who inadvertently stumble on history-making finds. Sometimes it’s a badger.
1. FRENCH LABORER SHOVELS UP CHILDERIC’S TREASURE.
On May 27, 1653, laborer Adrien Quinquin was working on the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai when, instead of dirt, he suddenly shoveled up gold coins. Further shoveling revealed an ancient tomb packed with wonders: a hundred more coins, gold and garnet-ornamented swords, horse fittings and buckles, a solid gold torc, a gold bull’s head, 300 gold bees and a gold signet ring. The signet ring was tellingly inscribed CHILDERICI REGIS.
Monsieur Quinquin had found the tomb of Childeric I, king of the Salian Franks, who was buried in his capital of Tournai after his death in 481 or 482 CE. Two centuries after it was found, the treasure of Childeric was stolen from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. The thieves melted down almost all of it, leaving only two coins, two bees and the sword fittings for police to fish out of leather bags immersed in the Seine.