Major Discovery Highlight’s Gold’s Long History As Money

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from Gold Silver Bitcoin:

A major discovery of more than 2,000 gold coins off the north-central coast of Israel could prove to be a part of the largest gold hoard ever found in the eastern Mediterranean, say archaeologists. The discovery highlights the long history of gold as money.

The coins have been identified as dinars, which was the official currency of the Fatimid caliphate that ruled parts of the Mediterranean from AD 909 to 1171.

The coins were found in early February when a team of six sport divers found what they initially mistook as a few toy coins on the seabed near the ancient harbor of Caesarea.  The divers immediately notified the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Divers from the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit accompanied the group back to the site and were stunned at what they had found.

We were told [that the divers] had found about 30 or 40 coins,” says Jakob (Koby) Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit. “Usually that means you’ve found a hoard. So we went back and performed a small excavation. After two hours, we had found something like one thousand coins.

“We were shocked,” he said. “We were so incredibly excited, but when you’re underwater, you can’t talk to each other. It was only when we surfaced and pulled out our regulators that we could scream with happiness.”

A thousand more coins were recovered from the site last week, which places the find as at least five times as large as what has been considered the largest known gold coin hoard ever found in the country: 376 Fatimid dinars discovered in the city of Ramle in the early 1960s.  The recent find could count as the largest find of gold coins ever reported in the eastern Mediterranean.

Fatimid dinars feature names of the caliphs under whom they were minted, as well as the date and location where they were minted. ”They’re first-class historical documents,” contends Robert Kool, curator of the IAA’s Coin Department.

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