Divers find ‘priceless’ hoard of Arab gold coins off the coast of Israel

Divers find ‘priceless’ hoard of Arab gold coins

Over 2,000 gold coins have been found off the north-central coast of Israel, which are believed to be part of the largest gold hoard ever found in the eastern Mediterranean.

According to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the sunken treasure —handed to them by the lucky team of divers— includes coins of various denominations and sizes from the period of the Fatimid Caliphate, the Muslim dynasty that ruled in much of North Africa and the Middle East from 909 to 1171.

Many of the coins were bent and exhibited bite marks, which suggests they were once closely examined by their owners or by merchants, experts say.

The find was made by accident early this month, when a team of six sport divers spotted what they initially thought were a few toy coins on one of the Caesarea National Park’s harbours.

Divers find ‘priceless’ hoard of Arab gold coins

Further examination of the area delivered another thousand coins this week, which already makes the find at least five times as large as what has until now been considered the largest known gold coin hoard ever found in the country—a cache of 376 Fatimid dinars unearthed in the city of Ramle in the early 1960s.

Yoli Schwartz, a spokeswoman for IAA, told AFP the record-breaking discovery was “so valuable that it’s priceless.”

The Authority hailed the divers as “model citizens” for reporting the find instead of taking any of it home.

Images: Screenshot from ABC News Video | YouTube.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

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