They swam over what at first looked like a golden token from a board game, but they quickly realized that the token was a gold coin.
That initial discovery led to uncovering a stash of almost 2,000 gold coins. According to the Israel Antiques Authority, the coins had been peacefully resting at the bottom of Israel’s Mediterranean Sea coast for the last 1,000 years.
The Antiques Authority believes that the gold coin collection was most likely intended for delivery to the Egyptian government as a form of tax payment from the ancient Caesarean province. Other theories are that the gold coins were intended as salaries for soldiers a military garrison, or perhaps were lost from a merchant ship that was traveling among the ports along the Mediterranean coast.
The gold coins are of several sizes and denominations, including a quarter dinar from Palermo, Sicily, dated from the ninth century. The majority of the rare gold coins are traced to the Fatimid Caliphate, a Shiite Muslim kingdom that reigned over a large portion of the Middle East and North Africa approximately one thousand years ago.
Interestingly, some of the coins were bent and showed bite marks, as if the original owners were using the ages old method of biting gold to know it was real.
The divers that discovered the coins turned the coins in to the Israeli authorities. Under Israeli law, it is a criminal offense to illegally remove and sell antiquities. Let’s hope these model citizens can be recognized in some way for their honesty.
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