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Indiana Jones fan imitates his hero…and whips up real-life discovery of ancient Roman treasure

Crusading for coins led this self-confessed Indy geek to a 2,000-year-old hoard.

By Benjamin Bullard
Raiders of the Lost Ark

Maybe we should have hung on to our whips and fedoras. A lifelong Indiana Jones fan in England never let go of his childhood love for the archaeological adventurer, and now it’s paid off — not on the big screen, but in real-life treasure.

Though it happened in 2019, news of what one expert calls “the largest precious metal hoard found in Britain” from the early Roman Empire is just now going public — and it all happened thanks to one guy with a metal detector and serious appreciation for treasure hunting in style.

BBC reports a self-confessed Raiders of the Lost Ark fan by the name of George Ridgway was out with his detector near the Suffolk town of Ipswich (using Google Earth’s plot of Roman Roads in Britain) when he pinged on something that would have made even Indy do a double-take: a pair of Roman brooches, and “a Julius Caesar silver denarius dating from 46-47BC,” according to Ridgway.

Two hours later, he had discovered an additional 180 ancient coins, and over the next several months — with aid from local archeologists — uncovered an overall stash of nearly 750 gold and silver coins. The best part? Ridgway did it while staying true to his Indiana Jones fandom.

As a kid, “I wanted to be like him — something resonated with me from a very early age — locating mystic relics — he's such an iconic figure,” Ridgway told BBC, while confessing that, even as an adult, he still ventures out in search of treasure while sporting Indy’s iconic fedora.

The haul itself is rare enough to make Indy’s bucket list, too: Dr. Eleanor Ghey, curator of the British Museum's Iron Age and Roman coin hoards, told BBC Ridgway’s discovery is “currently the largest precious metal hoard found in Britain that dates from the reign of Claudius I, whose imperial rule from 41-54 AD was sandwiched between notorious Roman emperors Nero and Caligula. "Roman gold coins of this period are rarely found,” she added, noting Ridgway’s discovery of a gold coin bearing Claudius’ likeness.

At least these coins won’t be packed in a crate and secreted away in the back of a giant, musty warehouse. Once archaeologists have curated the entire collection, they’re likely to be displayed at the nearby Ipswich Museum. And all those years of being like Indy will pay off for Ridgway in real-life moolah, too: “[T]he money will be shared between Mr. Ridgway and the Suffolk landowner,” reports BBC.

Suddenly in the mood for some historical sleuthing? Check out Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol on Peacock!