A group of divers found 2,000 gold coins on the seabed of the Caesarea National Park in Israel â€” the largest trove of gold coins ever discovered in the country.
Caesarea is an ancient Roman city located near the modern Israeli city of Caesarea, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The divers from the local diving club stumbled upon the coins by accident a few weeks ago and reported the find to theÂ Israeli Antiquities Authority.
The coins come in different denominations â€” dinar, half dinar and quarter dinar â€” and are of various weight and dimensions. While the earliest coin was minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of 9th century, most of them were minted in Egypt and North Africa and belong to the Fatimid caliphs Al-á¸¤Äkim (996â€“1021 CE) and his son Al-áº’Ähir (1021â€“1036).
Even though they rested at the bottom of the sea for a thousand years, the coins are in an “excellent state of preservation,” according to Robert Cole, an expert numismatist with the Israel Antiquities Authority.
As for how the coins ended up on the sea floor, there are a couple of theories. All of them involve the sinking of a ship â€” either one carrying the money to pay the salaries for soldiers in the military garrison stationed in Caesarea, or a merchant vessel that traded with the nearby coastal cities.
Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the discovery will likely lead to more archaeological findings.
“There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat, which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected,” Sharvit said in a statement.