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Ancient coin collector's stash found tucked in wall in Israel

By Ed Adamczyk
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Ancient coin collector's stash found tucked in wall in Israel
Coins dating to the first century B.C. were discovered at an archaeological excavation in Modi'in, Israel. Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Facebook

MODI'IN , Israel, June 8 (UPI) -- Excavators in Israel uncovered a cache of 16 rare silver coins dating to the first century B.C. at an archaeological site, providing evidence of what may be an ancient coin collection.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said the coins were each minted between 135 B.C. and 126 B.C.

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The discovery near the Modi'in, a city adjacent to the West Bank, came during an archeological search prior to construction of a new neighborhood there. The coins were found in a rock crevice, adjacent to a wall of an agriculture estate. Excavation director Avraham Tendler to suggest they may have belonged to someone "who hid his money in the hope of coming back to collect it, but he was unlucky and never did return."

"This is a rare cache of silver coins from the Hasmonean period comprised of shekels and half-shekels that were minted in the city of Tyre ...The cache that we found is compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it."

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Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel of the Israel Antiquities Authority's coin department, suggested that "some thought went into collecting the coins, and it is possible that the person who buried the cache was a coin collector. He acted in just the same way as stamp and coin collectors manage collections today."

The archaeological dig also uncovered remnants of an estate dedicated to farming, and presses and other equipment used in wine- and olive oil-making. Fortified barriers, and a system of tunnels and hiding places within the foundation of the buildings suggest the homeowners were involved in the 66 A.D. revolt of the Jews against the Romans.

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