Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday, February 18th that recreational scuba divers had found a treasure trove of 2,000 gold coins in the harbor area in Caesarea. A statement from the authority described the cache of 1000-year-old gold coins as “priceless”.
Statement from Israel Antiquities Authority
The authority’s statement noted: “The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea.”
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The statement went on to say that more than 2,000 gold coins were found offshore in the northern coastal city when members of a local diving club found a couple of coins them and reported their find to the Antiquities Authority’s marine division.
“At first, they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game,” according to the statement. “It was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find.”
Located with metal detectors, the 2,000 coins weighing over 13 pounds in gold were recovered from the Caesarea harbor floor. Historians believe the coins belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the known world from 909 to 1171.
The oldest coin was minted in Palermo, Sicily around 850 AD.
Israeli archaeologists have launched an exploration of the area to see if there is evidence of a shipwreck or other artifacts to be recovered.
Statement from coin expert
“I’ve been working at the authority for 23 years and I’ve never seen a cache this size,” Antiquities Authority coin expert Robert Kool commented to media sources. “The preservation of the gold coins is excellent and although they were in the seabed for 1,000 years, they needed no cleaning or preservation in the lab. That is because gold is a noble metal, which is not impacted by water or air.”