Divers Find Gold Coin Treasure
Divers in Israel haul largest trove of gold coins in the coutry's history from ancient harbour seabed
A group of five divers have discovered the 'priceless' treasure in the ancient port city Caesarea, located on Israel's Mediterranean coast, a press release of the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.
'At first they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game and it was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find,' the statement read.
Using a metal detector, the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority's divers recovered almost 2,000 gold coins in different denominations, dating back the Fatimid period (909 to 1171).
A winter storm is believed to have exposed the treasure and the Israeli Antiquities Authority hopes that future excavations will help to put the find into an archaeological and historical context and even unveil more treasures.
'There is 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,' Kobi Sharvit, director of the marine archaeology unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said, thrilled by the recent discovery.
'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,' he said.
Sharvit cocnluded that the challenge now lies in further developing the area for tourists and divers while ensuring that all divers are accompanied by inspectors or inspectors from the dive club to preserve the site.