Five days into the latest excavations near the south wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar’s crew made a stunning discovery. Two bundles of treasure, including 36 gold coins, that were probably hidden during the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 615 AD were found in a ruined public building dating from the time of Byzantine rule over Israel. One bundle was found buried in a shallow hole in the floor, and the other was scattered all over the floor.
The largest item is a 10 cm gold medallion and chain with the images of the menorah, shofar (an instrument made of ram’s horn used in Jewish religious ceremonies) and a Torah scroll. This is the earliest depiction of a Torah ever found on an archaeological dig, and the medallion itself was probably a decoration for a Torah. This is only the third time ever that gold coins have been found in Jerusalem during archaeological excavations.
The coins feature the images of different Byzantine emperors, whose reigns extended over 250 years.
Dr. Mazar called the find “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” She continued “It would appear that the most likely explanation is that the Ophel cache was earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue, at a location that is near the Temple Mount, What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful. The treasure was abandoned, and its owners could never return to collect it.”
While we may not have 1200 year-old coins at Gainesville Coins, you can find a nice selection of modern Israeli gold coins!