The rare gold coins were hidden in the wall of a well during the Crusader conquest. Archaelogists guess that the owners never returned to reclaim them.
By World Israel News Staff
Archaeologists uncovered a small bronze pot holding 24 gold coins and a gold earring, which they linked to the Crusader conquest. The discovery was made a few days ago at the Caesarea National Park.
“The cache is a silent testimony to one of the most dramatic events in the history of Caesarea – the violent conquest of the city by the Crusaders. Someone hid their fortune, hoping to retrieve it – but never returned,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
The gold was discovered hidden between two stones in the side of a well, located in a house in a neighborhood dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, some 900 years ago.
“According to contemporary written sources, most of the inhabitants of Caesarea were massacred by the army of Baldwin I (1100–1118), king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. It is reasonable to assume that the treasure’s owner and his family perished in the massacre or were sold into slavery, and therefore were not able to retrieve their gold,” said excavation directors Dr. Peter Gendelman and Mohammed Hatar.
The discovery was made during extensive excavation and conservation work in Caesarea sponsored by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, which is investing more than NIS 150 million in uncovering the hidden treasures of Caesarea, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
According to Dr. Robert Kool, coin expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The cache is of a unique combination of coins not yet seen in Israel consisting of two types of coins: 18 Fatimid dinars, well known from previous excavations in Caesarea where it was the standard local currency of the time; and a small and extremely rare group of six Byzantine imperial gold coins.”
“Five of the coins are concave and belong to the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas (1071–1079). These coins did not circulate locally, and hint at contacts, possible trade relations between Caesarea and Constantinople during the period,” Dr. Kool said.
“One or two of these gold coins were the equivalent of the annual salary of a simple farmer, so it seems that whoever deposited the cache was at least well-to-do or involved in commerce,” he noted.
Caesarea was once a vibrant port. Founded 2,030 years ago, it was one of the most important cities of the Roman and Byzantine empires, says the Israel Antiquities Authority, whose project at the ancient port is one of the largest and most important conservation projects in Israel.