Monday, December 03, 2018

It's Gelt. It's Gold. It's Chanukah

As received from the Israel Antiquities Authority:


Hanukkah Gelt:

A cache of rare gold coins and a 900 year old gold earring were discovered at the port of Caesarea.



..."The cache is a silent testimony to one of the most dramatic events in the history of Caesarea -- the violent conquest of the city by the Crusaders. Someone hid their fortune, hoping to retrieve it -- but never returned."

This rare and important treasure, a small bronze pot holding 24 gold coins and a gold earring, was uncovered a few days ago at the Caesarea National Park...The gold cache was found hidden between two stones in the side of a well, located in a house in a neighborhood dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, some 900 years ago.

According to the directors of the excavation, Dr. Peter Gendelman and Mohammed Hatar of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The coins in the cache dating to the end of the eleventh century, make it possible to link the treasure to the Crusader conquest of the city in the year 1101, one of the most dramatic events in the medieval history of the city. According to contemporary written sources, most of the inhabitants of Caesarea were massacred by the army of Baldwin I (1100–1118), king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. It is reasonable to assume that the treasure’s owner and his family perished in the massacre or were sold into slavery, and therefore were not able to retrieve their gold."




...At the center of the excavation and conservation activity...[i]s part of a sacred compound first built by Herod more than two millennia ago, as a tribute to his Roman patron, the emperor Augustus, and the goddess Roma. The newly discovered treasure was found in this area.




The well where the treasure was found was part of a house within the Fatimid and Abbasid neighborhoods, built some 1,000 years after Herod's reign, below the western fa├žade of the Herodian temple. These neighborhoods also extended to parts of the inner harbor of the Caesarea port, which had already silted up by that time.




According to Dr. Robert Kool, coin expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The cache is of a unique combination of coins not yet seen in Israel consisting of two types of coins: 18 Fatimid dinars, well known from previous excavations in Caesarea where it was the standard local currency of the time; and a small and extremely rare group of six Byzantine imperial gold coins. Five of the coins are concave and belong to the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas (1071–1079).

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