Have you ever dreamed of finding an ancient treasure under the ocean? On Tuesday, a small group of amateur scuba divers did just that when they found the treasure of a lifetime off the coast of Israel.
“At first they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game, and 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,” said the IAA.
By utilizing metal detectors, archaeologists were able to discover almost 2,000 coins that had been sitting at the bottom of the sea for around 1,000 years. The coins varied in size, value, and weight.
The IAA told the media: “The earliest is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily, in the second half of the ninth century A.D.”
The pieces were deemed to be from the Fatmid Caliphate, which was a Muslim dynasty that ruled in parts of the Middle East and North Africa from A.D. 909 to A.D. 1171.
Experts are debating several theories as to how the coins ended up at the bottom of the ocean. Kobi Sharvit, director of Marine Archeology unit at the IAA, thinks: “The boat was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison that was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city.”
Another theory is that the ship was a giant merchant ship that was trading in the region, and happened to sink near the port.
Caesarea is an important historic city. In the time of Jesus, the city was ruled by Pontus Pilot. The city is over 2,000 years old, and was once one of the grandest port cities in the entire world. It was built by Herod the Great as a tribute to the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
Because gold perseveres well in all conditions, the coins are in excellent shape; some even have bite marks from where they were inspected by their owners to make sure of their authenticity.
Such a rare find makes me want to go scuba diving… wait, don’t let me forget by metal detector!