Gold Coin Discovery Provides New Insights into History

A cache of 425 gold coins recently unearthed in Israel is providing a new lens into a little-a known era of history in the Holy Land. 

Two 18-year-olds, participating in an archeological excavation in the town of Yavne, just south of Tel Aviv, uncovered the hoard of coins packed into a clay jar whose lid was secured with a nail. 

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The coins, made of pure 24-karat gold, were found in excellent condition, “as if they were put in yesterday,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement. The cache is a “rare treasure,” Israel Antiquities Authority coin expert Robert Kool told The New York Times

The collection of coins, weighing 845 grams, or nearly 30 ounces, would have been worth a small fortune at the time, according to Kool, enough to buy a luxurious home. The cache includes complete gold dinars, as well as 270 portions of gold dinars that were cut to serve as change, Kool said. 

One of the cuttings is a portion of a coin of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos, who ruled from 829 to 842. Its inclusion in the cache presents proof, scholars say, of trade, or at least payments, between rival empires during the period. 

The Abbasid Caliphate ruled a vast empire in the ninth century, extending from Persia to North Africa. Archeologists will analyze the coins to learn about the era’s other leaders, who are often depicted on coins from the period.

 “You can read the name of the caliph in Baghdad,” Kool said of coins of the period. The name of the governor who rules in his name in Egypt is often included.”

Analysis may also reveal the location of the mint, and the date of production.

But, the exact intent of the person who hid the golden treasure will never be known. 

“The man who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it, and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move,” a statement from the Antiquities Authority added. “We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure.”

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