Byzantine Coins and Gold

Rare Byzantine Coins and Gold Uncovered in Ancient Garbage Pit

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Archaeologists have found a hoard of ancient coins, lamps, jewellery, and other artefacts in a Byzantine refuse pit uncovered near the ancient city of Apollonia-Arsuf in Israel. 

The ancient garbage dump is one of many unearthed in the area, however, this one is larger than most measuring 100 feet in diameter. But what is most curious is why the treasures were in the garbage pit in the first place.

“The large amount of usable artefacts in the pit raises questions. Noteworthy among the jewellery is an octagonal ring with parts of verses from the Samaritan Pentateuch engraved in Samaritan script,” said archaeologists Oren Tal of Tel Aviv University and Moshe Ajami of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In total, the archaeologists found 400 Byzantine coins, 200 intact Samaritan lamps, gold jewellery, animal bones, pottery and glass fragments. Most of the objects are around 1,500 years old and date to the 5 th-7th centuries AD.

The Apollonia-Arsuf region has been continuously inhabited since the Persian period in the late 6 th century BC until the end of the Crusader period in the 13 th century.  It was populated by both Christians and Samaritans during the Byzantine period when Arsuf featured industrial quarters with wine presses, olive presses, plastered pools and kilns for the production of raw glass.  It was conquered by the Crusaders in 1101 and by the middle of the 12th century was turned over to the one of the aristocratic Crusader families, becoming the centre of a feudal manor. In 1241 a fortress was built, and in 1261 control of the fortified city was handed over to a Christian military order called the Knights Hospitaller.

Only recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the finding of a 1,000-year-old building which was once the largest hospital in the Middle East established by the Knights Hospitaller.

By the end of the Mamluk siege in 1265, Arsuf was destroyed and the site was never reoccupied. Excavations on the area are ongoing and it is hoped that more artefacts will be recovered which will shed more light on this historical region.

By April Holloway


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