Israelis Find 7th Century Gold Hoard
Israel Antiquities Authority reported a
thrilling find Sunday — the discovery of 264
ancient gold coins in Jerusalem National Park.
The coins were minted during the early 7th
“This is one of the largest and most impressive
coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem —
certainly the largest and most important of its
period,” said Doron Ben-Ami and Yana
Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation
on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Researchers discovered the coins at the
beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday of
Hanukkah, which started at sunset on Sunday.
One of the customs of the holiday is to give “gelt,”
or coins, to children, and the archaeologists
are referring to the find as “Hanukkah money.”
Nadine Ross, a British archaeological volunteer,
happened onto the coins during the dig just
below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
“To be honest, I just thought, ‘Thank God I
didn’t throw it in the rubbish bucket,’ ” said
Ross, who had taken four weeks off from her
engineering job in England to work at the site.
“I was just glad I sort of spotted it before I
disturbed it too much.”
The 1,400-year-old coins were found in the
Giv’ati car park in the City of David in the
walls around Jerusalem National Park, a site
that has yielded other finds, including a
well-preserved gold earring with pearls and
They were in a collapsed building that dates
back to the 7th century, the end of the
Byzantine period. The coins bear a likeness of
Heraclius, who was the Byzantine emperor from
610 to 641.
The authority said that while different coins
had been minted during this emperor’s reign, the
coins found at the site represent “one
In that style, the emperor is clad with military
garb and is holding a cross in his right hand.
On the other side is the sign of the cross.
Authorities said the excavation of the building
where the hoard was discovered is in its early
stages. They are attempting to learn about the
building and its owner and the circumstances of
“Since no pottery vessel was discovered adjacent
to the hoard, we can assume that it was
concealed inside a hidden niche in one of the
walls of the building. It seems that with its
collapse, the coins piled up there among the
building debris,” Ben-Ami and Tchekhanovets
The find is a a golden moment for Ross, who said
“it is a pity that I can’t take it home with me.
But there you go.”