Israeli youths have unearthed hundreds of gold coins stashed away in a clay vessel for more than a thousand years.
The treasure was discovered on on August 18, 2020, the Israel Antiquities Authority said, by teenagers volunteering at an excavation site in central Israel where a new neighbourhood is planned to be built.
Dating back to the Abbasid period around 1,100 years ago, the collection of 425 coins is an ‘extremely rare’ find, Israel Antiquities Authorities experts said.
“The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move,” said excavation director Liat Nadav-Ziv.
“We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure.”
The treasure trove was hidden by its mysterious owner in an area that, during the Abbasid period, is understood to have been populated by workshops.
‘It was amazing,’ Oz Cohen, one of the young volunteers who unearthed the long-forgotten treasure, told Reuters.
“I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again I saw these were gold coins.”
“It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”
According to numismatist Robert Kool of the Antiquities Authority, the coins were made in the late ninth century, during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, which formerly ruled the majority of the Near East and North Africa.
At the time they were stashed, the coins would have been worth a significant amount of money, Mr Kool continued.
“For example, with such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighbourhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt,” he added.
“Hopefully the study of the hoard will tell us more about a period of which we still know very little.”
The Yavne discovery represents one of the largest collections of ancient coins ever found within Israel.
Off the coast of the historic port city of Caesarea, amateur divers discovered some 2,000 gold coins from the 10th–11th century Fatimid period in 2015.