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Teens Find 425 Pieces of Islamic Gold Coins, More Than a Thousand Years Old, at a Dig in Israel

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  • These rare coins, which came from the Abbasid Caliphate, were said to date back from the late 9th century
  • The total weight of the coins were around 845 grams of pure gold and that the value could buy a luxury home back then.
  • The coins were found in superb condition, as if the pieces were buried only the day before.

The teenage volunteers at an archaeological excavation in Israel unearthed 425 gold coins that are around 1,100 years old. These rare coins, which came from the Abbasid Caliphate, were said to date back from the late 9th century, according to coin expert Robert Kool. The discovery was announced on Monday, August 24.

Kool said that the total weight of the coins were around 845 grams of pure gold and that the value of the coins could buy a luxury home in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, which was the super rich capital of Egypt back then.

The coins were in magnificent condition.
One of the volunteers remove dust that covered the coins.

The region was part of the Abbasid Caliphate during that time, which extended from Persia to North Africa. The golden age of the Abbasid Caliphate saw the empire control most of the Near East and North Africa.

“The hoard consists of full gold dinars, but also — what is unusual — contains about 270 small gold cuttings, pieces of gold dinars cut to serve as small change,” he said.

The coins include an exceptionally rare cutting that was a fragment of a gold solidus of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos. It was said to be minted in Constantinople, the empire’s capital.
Israel Antiquities Authority coin expert Shahar Krispin counts the gold coins.
Liat Nadav-Ziv, director of the excavation, holds one of the coins.

The news was announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The IAA did not really specify the exact location of the site, although some reports say that it was from the central Israeli city of Yavne.

Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad, the excavation’s directors, said that whoever buried the gold coins were probably expecting that they would be retrieving it. They added that the find could lead to international trade carried by the residents of the area.

According to the directors, “Finding gold coins, certainly in such a considerable quantity, is extremely rare. We almost never find them in archaeological excavations, given that gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation.”

They said that the coins were “made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air” were found in superb condition, as if the pieces were buried only the day before. The discovery may indicate that an international trade commenced between the area’s residents and remote areas.

The coins were enearthed at an archeological site near Tel Aviv in central Israel.

The teenagers who discovered the gold coins were doing volunteer work ahead of their mandatory army service. One of the teens, Oz Cohen, described the find as “amazing.”

“I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”

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