Archaeologists overseeing a renovation project on Prechistenka Street in Moscow stumbled upon a small cache of 16th century silver coins when workers were replacing gas pipes underneath the street.
According to a statement posted on the mayor’s office's official website, the coins were concealed in a hidden compartment within a hollow bishop chess piece.
"Ten hand-minted silver coins worth five kopeks in total were found hidden inside a bishop chess piece carved from bone," Alexei Yemelyanov, chief of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage, said.
The chess piece itself turned out to be hollow on the inside and composed of three separate components screwed together.
"If every piece in that chess set was made in a similar fashion, then it could hold about 160 kopeks in total," Yemelyanov remarked.
The chess piece and the coins have already been cleaned and treated with preservative compounds, and the city authorities are currently deciding which museum to submit the artefacts to.
Yemelyanov also added that earlier another stash of valuables — a pouch containing 18th and 19th century coins, and a late 19th century watch along with a handful of watch dials and covers — was discovered in the vicinity of Petrovsky Boulevard.
"We have reasons to suspect that this stash wasn’t legal in nature. We can’t rule out the possibility of the watch and parts being stolen from a workshop or a pawn shop and then discarded," Yemelyanov explained.