Erfurt Treasure
The Erfurt Treasure is a hoard
In archaeology, a hoard is a collection of valuable objects or artifacts, sometimes purposely buried in the ground. This would usually be with the intention of later recovery by the hoarder; hoarders sometimes died before retrieving the hoard, and these surviving hoards may be uncovered by...

 of coins, goldsmith's work and jewelry that belonged to Jews, who secreted them hastily in 1349 at the time of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s. The pieces were found in 1998 in the wall of a house in the medieval Jewish neighborhood of Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

, Germany.

Similar treasures were hidden in times of acute distress for the Jewish community at Weissenfels, Lingenfeld
Lingenfeld is a municipality in the district of Germersheim, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated approx. 5 km north-west of Germersheim, and 10 km south-west of Speyer....

, Münster
Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland...

 and Sroda Slaska
Sroda Slaska
Środa Śląska is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of Środa Śląska County, and of the smaller administrative district called Gmina Środa Śląska. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany...

. The Erfurt treasure, however, is larger by an order of magnitude than any of the others. It contains two enormous silver ingots, large numbers of gold and silver coins, tableware in precious metals, and a very large quantity of jewellery. The jewellery in particular has drawn the attention of scholars, since little fourteenth-century jewelry survives, as jewelry was often melted down when it was deemed out of style and its value as bullion outweighed other considerations.

The treasure includes several magnificent jewelled brooches, and a set of eight silver cups designed to fit inside each other, dozens of belt buckles, a cosmetic set and seven brooches.

One outstanding piece is the gold wedding ring with a bezel composed of openwork Gothic tracery, capped by a facetted steeple. Made in the early fourteenth century, it is one of few existing medieval Ashkenazi wedding rings. The ring features a beautifully crafted, ornate, miniature version of a gothic tower and six engraved Hebrew letters that spell out mazal tov
Mazal tov
"Mazel tov" or "mazal tov" is a phrase used to express congratulations for a happy and significant occasion or event.-Etymology and pronunciation:...

, meaning "good luck," on the tower's roof. In accord with Jewish tradition, the magnificent wedding ring is made entirely of gold without the addition of stones.

Dozens of garment appliques are an extremely unusual find. These are small, silver sequins in various shapes, intended to be sewn onto garments. They were at the height of fashion in the fourteenth century, but, because they were made of solid silver, when the fashion changed all were melted down. The few surviving examples are almost all part of ecclesiastical textiles owned by churches. Erfurt provides rare evidence of the use of such ornaments in secular clothing.

Exhibitions of the Treasure

An exhibition, "Trésors de la Peste Noire", at the Musée National du Moyen Âge in the Hôtel de Cluny, Paris, April-September 2007 brought objects from the treasure together with the Colmar Treasure
Colmar Treasure
The Colmar Treasure or Colmar hoard is a hoard of precious objects buried by Jews at the time of the Black Death. The Treasure was found in 1863 in the wall of a house in the medieval rue des Juifs, in Colmar, Alsace. It is believed that some of the items were sold by the discoverers before the...


An exhibition, "Erfurt: Jewish Treasures from Medieval Ashkenaz," was on display at the Yeshiva University Museum of the Center for Jewish History
Center for Jewish History
The Center for Jewish History is a partnership, or consortium, of five Jewish organizations based in Manhattan. It is a partnership of five organizations of Jewish history, scholarship, and art: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the...

 in New York City, September 9, 2008 - January 29, 2009.

The treasure is scheduled to be displayed in London at the Wallace Collection
Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is a museum in London, with a world-famous range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with large holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms & armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries.It was established in...

 and at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, before going on permanent display at the newly restored, eleventh century Erfurt Synagogue
Erfurt Synagogue
The Erfurt Synagogue in Erfurt, Germany, was built c. 1100. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. It is planned to permanently house the Erfurt Treasure and is currently undergoing renovation.-History of the building:...

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