Israeli Archaeologists Find Ancient Roman Treasure

Archaeologists believe the cache of gold coins and jewelry was hid in haste during the Bar Kokhba revolt in the second century CE.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Gold coins and jewelry found near Kiriyat Gat.
Gold coins and jewelry found near Kiriyat Gat.Credit: Haaretz
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

A precious cache of gold from the second century CE was discovered in a development-led archeological excavation near Kiryat Gat. The cache contained 140 gold coins, golden jewelry, makeup vessels, a bejeweled ring, and more.

The archeologist found a Roman home on the site. "In the house's garden we discovered a hole that was dug up and covered again," Saar Ganor from the Antiquities Authority described the moment of discovery. "We started digging and a meter into the hole we found the cache, I swung the pick and 140 gold coins simply poured out, it was an amazing moment."

The objects in the cache had trace remains of a fabric, which leads the archeologist to believe that they were wrapped in a fabric and hid in the garden. "It seems that someone hid it there in great haste, planning to come back later and recover it, but didn't," Ganor said.

The coins in the cache make its dating quite accurate. The coins were minted in the reigns of Roman emperors Nero, Nerva, and Trajan. The oldest of the coins is dated to 54 CE; the newest was minted in 117 CE.

Gold coins and jewelry found near Kiriyat Gat.
A Roman gold coin
A ring with a red gem engraved with a winged woman.
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Gold coins and jewelry found near Kiriyat Gat.Credit: Haaretz
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A Roman gold coinCredit: Emil Salman
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A ring with a red gem engraved with a winged woman.Credit: Haaretz
Gold coins and jewelry found near Kiriyat Gat

The archaeologists hypothesize that the valuables were cached for a reason related to the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) as the Judean foothills, where the coins were found, played a central role in the revolt. The house's residents may have had to flee their home because of the revolt, and decided to hide their valuables before making their escape.

"The coins feature the portraits of the emperors, with their flipside embossed with scenes from the imperial cult, symbols of comradeship, and gods of the Roman pantheon such as Jupiter on his throne or holding lightning in his hand," Amil Eljam, who headed the dig, said.

In addition to the coins, the archaeologists also found a golden earring crafted in the shape of a flower and a ring with a red gem engraved with a winged woman. Two silver vessels were also found in the cache, which were probably used for cosmetics or medicine.

The cache was moved to the Antiquities Authority's laboratories in Jerusalem were the finding will be cleaned in the upcoming months.


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