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Divers find largest golden coin hoard ever discovered in Israel

Divers find largest golden coin hoard ever discovered in Israel


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The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced the discovery of a massive hoard of almost 2,000 gold coins by divers in the ancient harbor in Caesarea. The coins, which are over 1,000 years old, constitute the largest find of its kind in the country. It is believed the treasure belongs to a shipwreck of an official treasury boat on its ways to Egypt with collected taxes.

The discovery was made when a group of divers from a local dive club spotted what they initially thought were “toy coins”, while diving in the Caesarea National Park. The ancient Caesarea Maritima (or Caesarea Palestinae) city and harbor, which lies on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, was built by Herod the Great in about 25–13 BCE and was populated through the late Roman and Byzantine era.

Caesarea Ancient Harbor where the gold coins were discovered ( Deror Avi / Wikimedia Commons )

The divers reported the discovery to the Marine Archaeology Unit of the IAA, which immediately sent out additional divers with metal detectors to the discovery site, yielding nearly 2,000 gold coins in a spectacular state of preservation. They were in such good condition that archaeologists were even able to identify teeth and bite marks in the coins, evidence they had been physically inspected by their owners or the merchants.

The coins are in different denominations, including a dinar, half dinar, and quarter dinar, and date to the era of the Fatimid Empire (909 – 1171 AD), a Shia Islamic caliphate which spanned a large area of North Africa, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The dynasty ruled across the Mediterranean coast of Africa and ultimately made Egypt the centre of the caliphate.

Diver holding a handful of the newly-discovered coins in Israel. Credit: IAA

“The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed. There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the IAA. “Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there,” he added.

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The IAA revealed that most of the coins belong to the Fatimid caliphs Al-Ḥākim (996–1021 CE), and his son Al-Ẓāhir (1021–1036), and were minted in Egypt and North Africa. Al-Ḥākim is sometimes referred to as the “Mad Caliph” due to his erratic and oppressive behavior concerning religious minorities under his command. This differed markedly from the previous caliphs who had shown tolerance to non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews, who occupied high levels in government. It was, however ‘tolerance for a purpose’, set in place to ensure the flow of money from all those who were non-Muslims in order to finance the Caliphs' large army of Mamluks (slave soldiers).

Az-Zāhir assumed the Caliphate after the disappearance of Al-Ḥākim on the night of 12/13 February 1021 and at the age of 36. Al-Ḥākim had left for one of his night journeys to the al-Muqattam hills outside of Cairo, and never returned. A search found only his donkey and bloodstained garments. The disappearance has remained a mystery.

Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996-1021), sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam ( Wikimedia Commons )

According to the IAA, “the great value and significance of the treasure become apparent when viewed in light of the historical sources.” Ancient records reveal that the Muslim residents of the settlements were required to pay half their agricultural produce at harvest time, in addition to payment of a head tax of one dinar and five carats (twenty-four carats equal one dinar, hence the method used to measure gold according to carats).

The Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority were thrilled with the discovery of the treasure. They said: “There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage. After 2,000 years it is still capable of captivating its many visitors, of continuing to innovate and surprise again when other parts of its mysterious past are revealed in the ground and in the sea”.

Featured image: Gold coins found at ancient port in Caesarea. Credit: Carla Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority


    Found! Largest Ever Cache of Gold Coins Discovered in Israel

    (Jerusalem, Israel)&mdash[CBN News] A group of divers came across the largest treasure trove of gold coins ever discovered in Israel. (Photo via CBN News)

    Nearly 2,000 gold coins dating to the 11th century were recovered in an Israel Antiquities Authority salvage mission led by the IAA's Marine Archaeology Unit.

    Members of a diving club in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park discovered the coins. At first they thought the coin they saw was a toy, but soon realized it was genuine.

    They returned to shore and reported the find to the diving club director. He contacted the marine unit, which sent IAA divers to accompany them to the site of the discovery.

    Using a metal detector, the divers found nearly 2,000 different-sized coins.

    IAA Marine Archaeology Unit director Kobi Sharvit said the recent winter storm exposed the coin cache.

    Sharvit said the discovery raised several possible scenarios.

    "The discovery of such a large hoard of coins&mdashthat had such tremendous economic power in antiquity&mdashraises several possibilities regarding its presence in the seabed," Sharvit said.

    The director said the coins could have been anything from tax payments to salaries for the military garrison stationed in Caesarea.

    Another possibility is that the coins belonged to a large merchant ship that traded with the cities along the coast.

    Meanwhile, IAA numismatist Robert Cole said the coins are in "excellent" condition overall.

    "The coins are in an excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention from the metallurgical laboratory," Cole said in an IAA press release.

    "This is because gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water. The coins that were exposed also remained in the monetary circulation after the Crusader conquest, particularly in the port cities through which international commerce was conducted," he explained.

    Israeli law stipulates that all antiquities belong to the state. Not reporting or removing finds is punishable by up to five years in jail.

    Sharvit said the discovery of the coins underscored the need to "combine the development of the place as a tourism and diving site with restrictions that will allow the public to dive there only when accompanied by inspectors or instructors from the diving club."


    Large Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Israel

    Amateur divers and professional underwater archaeologists form the Israel Antiquities Authority have found what they say is the largest hoard of medieval gold coins ever found in Israel. Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

    The hoard, dating from the Fatimid period (10th – 12th century CE), was found by a group of amateur divers who immediately reported the find to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

    “The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed,” said Dr Kobi Sharvit, director of IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit.

    “There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city.”

    “Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there.”

    The oldest coin in the hoard is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily, in the second half of the 9th century CE.

    The find consists of about 2,000 coins (dinar, half dinar and quarter dinar), weighing almost 6 kg. Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

    Most of the coins belong to the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim (996–1021 CE) and his son Al-Zahir (1021–1036), and were minted in Egypt and North Africa.

    “The coin assemblage included no coins from the Eastern Islamic dynasties and it can therefore be stated with certainty this is a Fatimid treasure,” the archaeologists said.

    “The great value and significance of the treasure become apparent when viewed in light of the historical sources. For example, the description of the traveler and geographer Ibn Jubayr who writes that the Muslim residents of the settlements were required to pay the Fatimid government half their agricultural produce at harvest time, in addition to payment of a head tax of one dinar and five carats (twenty-four carats equal one dinar, hence the method used to measure gold according to carats).”

    “Descriptions in the Cairo Geniza from the 11th – 12th centuries CE tell, among other things, of the redemption of prisoners, including Jewish captives from Ashkelon who were transferred to Egypt. According to the documents, the Jewish community paid a sum of about 500 gold dinars to redeem and return them to Israel.”

    Just a small selection of Fatimid period gold coins found by Israeli divers. Image credit: Kobi Sharvit / Israel Antiquities Authority.

    “The coins are in an excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention from the metallurgical laboratory,” said Dr Robert Cole, a numismatic expert at the IAA.

    “This is because gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water.”

    “The coins that were exposed also remained in the monetary circulation after the Crusader conquest, particularly in the port cities through which international commerce was conducted. Several of the coins that were found in the assemblage were bent and exhibit teeth and bite marks, evidence they were physically inspected by their owners or the merchants. Other coins bear signs of wear and abrasion from use while others seem as though they were just minted,” the archaeologists said.


    Record haul of 2,000 coins found in an ancient harbour and belong to era of Fatimid Caliphate which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171

    Scuba divers discovered the largest cache of gold coins ever discovered on the Mediterranean coast of Israel – about 2,000 pieces from over 1,000 years ago, the country’s antiquities authority said.

    The largest hoard of gold coins found in Israel was discovered in the seabed of a harbour in the Mediterranean Sea port of Caesarea National Park.

    “On the seabed of the ancient harbour of Caesarea the largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel,” the authority said in a statement.

    It was by pure chance that members of a diving club in the Roman-era harbour, who said they had weighed nine kilogrammes (nearly 20 pounds), but described them as “priceless.”

    “At first they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game and it was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find,” it said.

    Experts from the authority called to the site uncovered “almost 2,000 gold coins in different denominations” circulated by the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171.

    Kobi Sharvit, director of the marine archaeology unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said excavations would be carried out in the hope of shedding more light on the origin of the treasure.

    “There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected,” said Sharvit.

    A scuba diver holds some of the gold coins recently found on the seabed in the ancient harbour in the Israeli town of Caesarea.

    “Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city.

    “Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there,” he said.

    The Israeli Antiquities Authority declined to put a cash value on the coins, which it said had been exposed as a result of winter storms.

    The find was “so valuable that its priceless,” spokeswoman Yoli Schwartz told AFP, adding the haul was now the property of the state, and that there was no finder’s fee.


    Largest Ever Cache of Gold Coins Found in Israel

    JERUSALEM, Israel -- A group of divers came across the largest treasure trove of gold coins ever discovered in Israel.

    Nearly 2,000 gold coins dating to the 11th century were recovered in an Israel Antiquities Authority salvage mission led by the IAA's Marine Archaeology Unit.

    Members of a diving club in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park discovered the coins. At first they thought the coin they saw was a toy, but soon realized it was genuine.

    They returned to shore and reported the find to the diving club director. He contacted the marine unit, which sent IAA divers to accompany them to the site of the discovery.

    Using a metal detector, the divers found nearly 2,000 different-sized coins.

    IAA Marine Archaeology Unit director Kobi Sharvit said the recent winter storm exposed the coin cache.

    Sharvit said the discovery raised several possible scenarios.

    "The discovery of such a large hoard of coins -- that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity -- raises several possibilities regarding its presence in the seabed," Sharvit said.

    The director said the coins could have been anything from tax payments to salaries for the military garrison stationed in Caesarea.

    Another possibility is that the coins belonged to a large merchant ship that traded with the cities along the coast.

    Meanwhile, IAA numismatist Robert Cole said the coins are in "excellent" condition overall.

    "The coins are in an excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention from the metallurgical laboratory," Cole said in an IAA press release.

    "This is because gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water. The coins that were exposed also remained in the monetary circulation after the Crusader conquest, particularly in the port cities through which international commerce was conducted," he explained.

    Israeli law stipulates that all antiquities belong to the state. Not reporting or removing finds is punishable by up to five years in jail.

    Sharvit said the discovery of the coins underscored the need to "combine the development of the place as a tourism and diving site with restrictions that will allow the public to dive there only when accompanied by inspectors or instructors from the diving club."

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    PHOTOS: Israel: The Largest Hoard of Gold Coins Ever Found in the Country

    [PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

    The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park. The group of divers from the diving club in the harbor found the lost treasure. According to them, at first they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game and it was only after they understood the coin was “the real thing” that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find who in turn reported the discovery to the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority. After quickly organizing, divers of the Israel Antiquities Authority went together with the group of divers out to where the coins were found and using a metal detector discovered almost 2,000 gold coins in different denominations: a dinar, half dinar and quarter dinar, of various dimensions and weight.

    According to Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, this is fascinating and rare historical evidence of life in the past which was exposed during winter storms. “The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed. There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city. Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there. In the Marine Archaeological Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority they are hoping that with the salvage excavations that will be conducted there, it will be possible to supplement our understanding of the entire archaeological context, and thus answer the many questions that still remain unanswered about the treasure.

    According to Robert Cole, an expert numismaticist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The coins are in an excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention from the metallurgical laboratory. This is because gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water. The coins that were exposed also remained in the monetary circulation after the Crusader conquest, particularly in the port cities through which international commerce was conducted. Several of the coins that were found in the assemblage were bent and exhibit teeth and bite marks, evidence they were “physically” inspected by their owners or the merchants. Other coins bear signs of wear and abrasion from use while others seem as though they were just minted.

    Kobi Sharvit had this to say about the divers who found the treasure and reported it (Tzvika Feuer, Kobi Tweena, Avivit Fishler, Yoav Lavi and Yoel Miller). These divers are model citizens. They discovered the gold and have a heart of gold that loves the country and its history” Sharvit added, “The Law of Antiquities states that all antiquities belong to the state and that not reporting or removing antiquities from their location, or selling or trading them is an offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment. In this case the divers reported the find but in many instances divers take the objects home and that way extremely important archaeological information is lost forever, which cannot be recovered. Therefore the discovery of the treasure underscores the need to combine the development of the place as a tourism and diving site with restrictions that will allow the public to dive there only when accompanied by inspectors or instructors from the diving club”.

    The Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority welcomed the discovery of the treasure. According to them, “There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage. After 2,000 years it is still capable of captivating its many visitors, of continuing to innovate and surprise again when other parts of its mysterious past are revealed in the ground and in the sea”.

    The Historical Background

    The earliest coin exposed in the treasure is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the ninth century CE. Most of the coins though belong to the Fatimid caliphs Al-Ḥākim (996–1021 CE) and his son Al-Ẓāhir (1021–1036), and were minted in Egypt and North Africa. The coin assemblage included no coins from the Eastern Islamic dynasties and it can therefore be stated with certainty this is a Fatimid treasure. The great value and significance of the treasure become apparent when viewed in light of the historical sources. For example, the description of the traveler and geographer Ibn Jubayr who writes that the Muslim residents of the settlements were required to pay the Fatimid government half their agricultural produce at harvest time, in addition to payment of a head tax of one dinar and five carats (twenty-four carats equal one dinar, hence the method used to measure gold according to carats). Descriptions in the Cairo Geniza from the eleventh and twelfth century CE tell, among other things, of the redemption of prisoners, including Jewish captives from Ashkelon that were transferred to Egypt. According to the documents, the Jewish community paid a sum of about five hundred gold dinars to redeem and return them to Israel, after which there still remained a debt of two hundred dinars. An especially high amount was paid for very important individuals. Thus one instance is mentioned in which eighty dinars were requested for the redemption of one prisoner. We know from the Cairo Geniza that gold coins were stored in sealed purses that contained c. 100 gold dinars, but not more than that.

    The Fatimid kingdom was extremely rich and its wealth was legendary. The treasury at the time reported there were twelve million gold dinars in the capital’s coffers in al-Qahira (today’s Cairo). The rise of the Fatimid dynasty to power in the second half of the tenth century CE and its political and economic policies brought renewed growth to the maritime trade in the eastern Mediterranean basin. The Fatimids, who came from North Africa, brought trading practices to Egypt which were characteristic of the western Mediterranean Sea. Under their rule Caesarea and other coastal cities were developed. City walls were built governors who were directly subordinate to the government in Egypt resided in them and had at their disposal garrisons that protected the cities against potential enemies. One of the outstanding features of this period is the expansion of international trade whereby merchant ships sailed alongside warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Even during times of conflict and siege commerce between the Muslims and Crusaders did not cease and it prospered in times of peace.

    Caesarea flourished and prospered during this period vibrant commerce with other port cities was conducted through it despite the poor condition of the harbor which was built by Herod in Roman times. The Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi describes Caesarea in his book The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions which was written in c. 958 CE, a time when the Fatimids were waging war in Israel and Syria, “There is no more beautiful a city than it… its location is pleasant and its fruit delicious, and the city is also famous for its buffalo milk and white bread. It is protected by an impregnable fortress whose walls surround its inhabited territory. The drinking water is drawn from cisterns and wells”. Similar descriptions also appear in the book by the noted Persian traveler Nasir Khusraw who visited Caesarea in 1047 CE. “A fine city blessed with an abundance of dates, oranges and lemons and flowing water, its walls are strong and the city gate is iron, water bursts forth in the city and from the courtyard of the Friday mosque one can see the sea and all that passes on it”. Caesarea, which was enclosed within a mighty wall and had a garrison stationed there, did not capitulate to the Crusader army that passed it in 1099 CE on its way to Jerusalem, and the city only surrendered to the invaders on May 17, 1101 CE, after a two week siege.

    1–2. Almost 2,000 coins were discovered on the seabed. Photographic credit: Kobi Sharvit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

    3–7. The rare treasure. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


    Israel’s largest-ever cache of medieval gold coins found by amateur divers

    Kobi Sharvit of Israel Antiquities Authority shows Fatimid-period gold coins that were found in the seabed in the Mediterranean Sea near the port of Caesarea.

    ARIEL SCHALIT/The Associated Press

    This article was published more than 6 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.

    Israel on Wednesday unveiled the largest collection of medieval gold coins ever found in the country, accidentally discovered by amateur divers and dating back about a thousand years.

    The find was made two weeks ago near the Israeli port city of Caesarea and consists of some 2,000 coins, weighing about six kilograms, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

    The coins were likely swept up in recent storms, said Kobi Sharvit, director of the authority's marine archaeology unit, adding that they provided "fascinating and rare historical evidence" from the Fatimid era in the 10th and 11th centuries.

    Story continues below advertisement

    The divers initially thought they had spotted toy coins but later showed a few of them to officials.

    Marine archeologists, using metal detectors, then found the larger haul with coins of various denominations, dimensions and weight. The divers handed over all the coins.

    Sharvit said they probably came from a boat that sank on its way to deliver tax money to Egypt or from a merchant ship trading among Mediterranean coastal cities.

    He said archeologists hope further excavations at the site of the find will make it possible "to supplement our understanding of the entire archaeological context, and thus answer the many questions that still remain unanswered about the treasure."

    Robert Kool, the Israel Antiquities Authority's curator of coins, said the find was in excellent condition. The coins did not require any cleaning or conservation despite having been at the bottom of the sea for about a millennium.

    "Gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water," he said. "Several of the coins that were found in the assemblage were bent and exhibit teeth and bite marks, evidence they were 'physically' inspected by their owners or the merchants."

    The earliest coin exposed in the treasure was a quarter-dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily, in the second half of the ninth century.


    Scuba Divers Discover 'Priceless' Gold Coins in Israel

    Divers found coins dating back more than 1,000 years by chance.

    Scuba Divers Discover 'Priceless' Gold Coins

    JERUSALEM — -- Scuba divers off the coast of Israel have uncovered a treasure trove of solid gold coins dating back more than 1,000 years.

    “The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea,” Israel's Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

    The authority said 2,000 gold coins were discovered by chance off the northern coastal city when members of a diving club stumbled upon them and informed the Antiquities Authority's marine division.

    “At first, they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game," the authority's statement said. "It was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find.”

    Using metal detectors, the 2,000 coins were brought to the surface, weighing in at just more than 13 pounds. Experts believe the coins belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171.

    The earliest coin was minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the 9th century.

    Given the possibility of more buried coins in the area, archaeologists have launched further excavations.

    “I’ve been working at the authority for 23 years and I’ve never seen a cache this size," Antiquities Authority coin expert Robert Kool told Haaretz. "The preservation of the gold coins is excellent and although they were in the seabed for 1,000 years, they needed no cleaning or preservation in the lab. That is because gold is a noble metal, which is not impacted by water or air.”

    The authority didn't put a cash value on the coins. Instead, spokeswoman Yoli Schwartz described the record haul to AFP as simply "priceless."


    Images: The largest stash of gold coins discovered in Israel

    An amateur scuba diving club recently unearthed the biggest trove of gold coins ever found in Israel. The stash was revealed after winter storms shifted the sands off the coast of Caesarea in Israel. The coins are about 1,000-years old, and were minted by the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of North Africa and the Mediterranean at the time. [Read the full story on the trove of gold coins]

    Bustling city

    The coins were found in Caesarea National Park, an archeological heritage site that preservers the remains of the ancient city of Caesarea. Caesarea was a harbor city founded by King Herod the Great about 2,000 years ago. At the time the coins were minted, the city was a bustling, prosperous port that played an important role in the Fatimid's trading network.

    More than toys

    Earlier this year, scuba divers were exploring off the coast of Israel in Caesarea National Park when they noticed what looked like a toy coin. When they took a closer look, they found ancient gold coins shimmering in the light. The club's leader reported the find, and the Israel Antiquities Authority returned to the site with metal detectors in hand.

    Mint condition

    The antiquities authority soon found a huge trove of gold coins, the largest ever unearthed in Israel. All told, about 2,000 gold coins were discovered under the ocean. Despite spending a millenium in the harsh saltwater environment, the coins were in pristine condition and needed no refurbishing or conservation work. That's because gold, as a noble metal, does not react with air or water.

    Wealthy Kingdom

    The gold coins were minted by caliphs who ruled the Fatimid Kingdom, which spanned much of North Africa and the Mediterranean. The earliest coin in the trove was minted in Sicility in the ninth century, though most were minted by the caliphs Al Hakim and Al Zahir, who ruled between A.D. 996 and A.D. 1031. Some of the same types of coins were circulating decades later, when crusaders conquered Jerusalem in A.D. 1099.

    Princely sum

    It's not clear how this huge trove of coins came to rest at the bottom of the sea. The money which came in denominations of dinars, half dinars, and quarter dinars, represented a princely sum in the Medieval time when it was circulating. For instance, freeing several captives would have cost hundreds of dinars, according to eleventh and twelfth century documents found in the Cairo Geniza, a trove of Jewish documents found in the storeroom of an ancient Jewish synagogue.

    Teeth marks

    Some of the coins harbored tooth marks, likely from traders who tested the coins' metal by biting into them. (Gold is a soft metal that leaves tooth impressions, while harder, but cheaper metals do not.) Some of the coins had scratch marks from frequent use, while others seemed to be newly minted.

    Lost to sea

    It's not clear how such a huge trove of gold coins wound up buried beneath the waves. One possibility is that a treasury ship laden with tax receipts sank off the coast of Caesarea. Another possibility is that the haul came from a merchant ship that traded up and down the Mediterranean, but sank on one of its routes.


    Watch the video: We entered the most dangerous ancient cave 1000 meters and we found a gold sword by metal detector (July 2022).


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