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Teenagers find ‘treasure’ trove of 1,100-year-old coins in Israel

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Two Israeli teenagers enjoying summer holidays have discovered a treasure trove of hundreds of gold coins dating back 1,100 years.

The treasure, buried in a clay pot, was discovered in an archaeological excavation in Yavne, in central Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Robert Kool, an IAA coin expert, said the coins were minted in the late 9th century when the region was under the control of the Abbasid Islamic caliphate, a dynasty that ruled a territory that ran from present-day Algeria to Afghanistan. The coins, 425 in total, are made of pure 24-karat gold and their total weight is 845 grams.

“With that amount, a person could buy a luxury home in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the huge and wealthy capital of Egypt at the time,” Kool said.

The teenagers, who participated in the national pre-military service, initially thought they had found fragile leaves buried in a jar.

“It was incredible. I dug into the ground and found what looked like very thin sheets,” Oz Cohen, one of the young men who found the coins, said in an IAA statement.

“When I looked again, I saw that they were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure,” he added.

Finding such a large stash of gold coins is extremely rare, the excavation site directors said, as the gold used to be melted down and reused by later civilizations.

“The coins, made of pure gold that does not rust in the air, were found in excellent condition, as if they had been buried the day before. The discovery may indicate that there was international trade between residents of the area and remote areas,” he said Liat Nadav from the IAA.

“The person who buried this treasure 1100 years ago must have hoped to recover it and even secured the vase with a nail so that it would not move. As for what prevented him from returning for his treasure, it is something we can only conjecture,” he added.

The gold coin collection contains whole gold dinars, but also minor coin fragments, which were used as small, petty change, Kool said.

One of the cuts is a rare piece, as it shows a fragment of the Byzantine emperor Theophilus. The coin from which it was cut would have been minted in the capital of the neighbouring empire, Constantinople.

Kool stressed that the fragment of a coin with the effigy of a Christian emperor found in an Islamic treasure speaks of the links between empires, both in times of war and peace.


Jessica writes occasionally for BuzzyNetwork. She specialized writing with the topic related to entertainment and celebrity.