Dinars were inside juglet, from the Early Islamic Period, excavated in the Jewish quarter of old Jerusalem
Four ancient gold coins were found in 2020 during an excavation in the Old City of Jerusalem. They were from the late 940s to 970s C.E., a time when control of Jerusalem was lost by the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, as the Shia Fatimid dynasty of North Africa expanded its power, including taking control of Egypt and Syria. Two of the coins were gold dinars from Ramla, under the Abbasids. The other two dinars were from Cairo, under Fatimid control.
As Jack Meinhardt explains in “When Crusader Kings Ruled Jerusalem” (Archaeology Odyssey, Sept/Oct 2000), the crusades, a century later, began to take Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks, who didn’t allow Christians to follow pilgrimage routes and walk where Jesus had walked. By the time the European noble and royal families arrived in the Near East, the Fatimids had reconquered the holy city from the Turks. After a two-week siege, they surrendered to the Crusaders without a fight. The next day, the Crusaders massacred the Fatimid Muslims and Jews in the city.
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As announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the coins were found by the IAA’s Yevgenia Kapil. As Dr. Kool, the IAA’s coin expert, explains, “Four gold dinars was a considerable sum of money for most of the population, who lived under difficult conditions at the time. It was equal to the monthly salary of a minor official, or four months’ salary for a common laborer.” Though senior officials might earn as much as 7,000 dinars each month, plus potentially hundreds of thousands of dinars each year in income from their land.
Read the Israel Antiquities Authority announcement.
A version of this post first appeared in Bible History Daily in November, 2020
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The Holy Land in Coins by Yaakov Meshorer. What archaeologists find is important. But what they don’t find can be just as important—such as their failure to find coins anywhere in the world before the end of the 7th century B.C. In the Holy Land, coins are not found until about 100 years later.
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