Two Israeli teenagers find hundreds of 1,100-year-old gold coins

Two Israeli teenagers on a summer break unearthed hundreds of gold coins that date from 1,100 years ago.

The hoard, buried in a clay jar, was discovered at an archaeological dig in Yavne in central Israel, said the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) on Monday.

Robert Kool, a coin expert with the IAA, said the coins date back to the end of the 9th century when the region was under the control of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate, a dynasty which ruled a territory from modern-day Algeria to Afghanistan.

425 coins in all were made of pure 24-karat gold and weighed 845 grams (1.86 pounds).

“With such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” Kool said.

The teenagers, who were taking part in pre-military national service, initially thought they had found some very thin leaves buried in a jar.

“It was amazing. I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves,” Oz Cohen, one of the youths who found the coins, said in a statement.

“When I looked again I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”

Finding a large cache of gold coins is exceedingly rare.

In 2016, a hiker found a 2,000-year-old gold coin carrying the face of a Roman emperor in eastern Galilee. The coin is so rare that only one other such example is known to exist, experts said at the time.

And in 2015, divers found a trove of nearly 2,000 gold coins in the ancient Mediterranean harbor of Caesarea, which had languished at the bottom of the sea for about 1,000 years.