Trove of Ancient Gold Coins Found in Yavneh Juglet

Potters' "piggy bank" contained 1,200-year-old coins

Broken "piggy bank" Juglet with coins

Photo: Liat Nadav-Ziv, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

A treasure trove of gold coins was found in a broken clay juglet at the end of 2019, among the remains of industrial kilns. Industrial pottery production at this Yavneh factory was ongoing starting near the end of the Byzantine to the beginning of the Early Islamic periods (7th-9th centuries C.E.). Liat Nadav-Ziv, leader of the excavation, and Marc Molkondov, who discovered the trove, speculate that the juglet was the personal piggy bank of a potter who worked at the site.

Yavneh, on the southern coast of Israel, is an important ancient city. It was a daughter town to the major cities of the Philistines in the Iron Age. Yavneh is best known as the site of the birth of rabbinic Judaism after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E. As we recounted in Philistine Cult Stands (Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2011), “The Sanhedrin was reconstituted here. The new moon was proclaimed here. The calendar was intercalated here. The central prayer of the synagogue service (the amidah) was formulated here. Rabbinic law (halakhah) went forth from Yavneh.”

Trove of Gold Coins. from Yavneh

Photo: Liat Nadav-Ziv, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The trove of gold coins dates mostly to the early Abbasid period (9th century C.E.) There is one gold dinar from the reign of Caliph Haroun A-Rashid (786-809 C.E.). The trove also includes gold dinars from the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled in the area that is now Tunisia. Dr. Robert Kool examined the coins.

The excavation southeast of Tell Yavneh has been conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The industrial kilns were used for commercial production of store-jars, bowls, and cooking pots. The potter would have been employed in this work. Why his trove of gold coins was left behind is lost to history.

Evidently, the site was good for industrial uses. Large-scale production of wine took place there more than 1,000 years earlier, during the Persian period (4th-5th centuries B.C.E.). So many ancient grape pips were found that archaeologist Dr. Haddad is confident that much more wine was produced there than Yavneh’s ancient inhabitants could have consumed.

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Related reading in Bible History Daily:

1,000-year-old Gold Coins Found Four ancient gold coins were found 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.

Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Caesarea Harbor A massive hoard of gold coins—the largest discovered to date in Israel—was found by divers in the Caesarea harbor. The majority of the gold coins, which were minted in Egypt and North Africa, date to the Fatimid caliphs Al-Ḥākim (996–1021 C.E.) and Al-Ẓāhir (1021–1036 C.E.).

Medieval Arabs Bathed Like Romans at Yavneh-Yam Excavators at the site of Yavneh-Yam along the southern coast of Israel have discovered a Roman-style bathhouse dating to the ninth century C.E., indicating that the site’s medieval Arab inhabitants readily borrowed and adapted earlier technologies.

Ancient Roman Garum Factory Discovered at Ashkelon The discovery of a first century fish sauce condiment factory suggests that Jewish diet in the first century C.E. was strongly influenced by the Roman occupiers, much as dress and other aspects of life were.

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