The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced that a massive coin hoard has been recovered from the waters off the ancient port city of Caesarea Maritima in Israel. The hoard of almost 2,000 gold coins was spotted by a group of divers, who immediately reported their discovery to the Marine Archaeology Unit of the IAA.
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.). The rulers of the Fatimid dynasty, who traced their descent from Islamic prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, came to reign over Egypt, North Africa, the Levant and Sicily between the 10th and early 12th centuries.
In an IAA press release, Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit, commented on the historical significance of the hoard and theories for its presence in the Caesarea harbor:
“The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed. There [was] probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison, which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city. Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there. In the Marine Archaeological Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, they are hoping that with the salvage excavations that will be conducted there, it will be possible to supplement our understanding of the entire archaeological context, and thus answer the many questions that still remain unanswered about the treasure.”
Many of the ancient places, people and events that populate Biblical history are also a part of the Islamic tradition. Our free eBook Islam in the Ancient World traces the Biblical roots of Islamic traditions and holy sites, bringing a new perspective to Biblical history and traditions. Learn how the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque both drew on earlier religious traditions, and how other important sites in Islam are tied to the Bible.
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