Erfurt Treasure

View of the whole find of the Erfurt Treasure: coins, silver bars, tableware such as goblets and a jug as well as  pieces of jewellery including rings, brooches and clothing decorations.
Picture: Erfurt Treasure: View of the whole find Picture: © TLDA

In the cellar of the Old Synagogue the so-called Erfurt Treasure is exhibited, which was in all likelihood buried during the pogrom of 1349 – a unique find in volume and composition. This treasure was discovered in 1998 after archaeological digs in the immediate neighbourhood of the synagogue on the plot of Nos. 43/44 Michaelisstraße. It was buried under the wall of a cellar entrance.

The treasure has a total weight of about 28 kilogrammes. The largest part in terms of quantity consists of 3,141 silver coins as well as 14 silver bars of different sizes and weights. Furthermore the find contained more than 700 individual pieces of Gothic goldsmith’s art with some pieces of the highest quality. The outstanding piece is a golden Jewish wedding ring from the early 14th century, which is exhibited in its own showcase in the middle of the exhibition room.

In addition to this a collection of silver tableware, which is composed of a set of eight goblets, a jug, a drinking vessel and what is known as a double head (a double vessel consisting of two cups which fit together so that one forms the lid for the other) were part of the find.

Of the pieces of jewellery special mention should be made of eight brooches of different sizes and designs, some of which are richly set with stones, as well as seven more rings made of gold and silver. Belt sections and clothing decorations represent the numerically largest share of the goldsmith’s works.

Comparison with other examples of goldsmith’s work and associated craftsmanship together with contemporaneous images date the treasure from the 13th century to the first half of the 14th century, i.e. Gothic style. Although the Gothic period was an exceptionally jewellery-rich period, where men and women liked to show their wealth with numerous adornments, only very few non-ecclesiastical goldsmith’s works have been preserved due to the value of the raw materials and the changes in fashion. This makes the Erfurt Treasure a unique collection, which has been exhibited in New York, London and Paris and has been on permanent display in the Old Synagogue since 2009.