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Silver coins and other ‘buried treasure’ were located by explorers in a cave in northern Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Explorers find Hidden Treasure in Cave – Coins and Jewelry Dating to Alexander the Great

Hidden treasure found by amateur explorers in a cave is being described as one of the most important discoveries in northern Israel in recent years. Members of the Israeli Caving Club have uncovered a rare cache of silver coins and jewelry dating to the reign of Alexander the Great.

The explorers spotted the ancient finds tucked into a narrow crevice of a stalactite cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel. The glint of a shiny, silver object caught the attention of Hen Zakai and his spelunking partners.

According to The Jerusalem Post the men found two ancient silver coins, minted in the late fourth century B.C. The remains of a pouch cloth contained jewelry – rings, earrings and bracelets. The items were well preserved and intricately detailed.

CNN reports, “On one side of the coin is an image of Alexander the Great, while on the other side is an image of Zeus sitting on his throne, arm raised as if ready to wield his fearsome lightning bolts. The coins allowed archaeologists to date the find.”

Alexander the Great , ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, led a military campaign throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. He is credited with founding some 20 cities that bore his name, including Alexandria in ancient Egypt, and spread Greece's culture east. He died in Babylon, the present day Iraq, in 323 B.C.

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A coin depicting Alexander the Great on one side. The image of Zeus on a throne is said to be portrayed on the other side. Minted coins help experts date finds.

A coin depicting Alexander the Great on one side. The image of Zeus on a throne is said to be portrayed on the other side. Minted coins help experts date finds. Credit: Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority

Coins, rings, bracelets, earrings, and a stone weight; the ancient items, thought to date to the reign of Alexander the Great, were found within a cloth pouch.

Coins, rings, bracelets, earrings, and a stone weight; the ancient items, thought to date to the reign of Alexander the Great, were found within a cloth pouch.  Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

It is thought the coins and treasures were stashed by the ancient owners during political unrest, assumedly to be retrieved when it was safe to do so.

Deputy director of the authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, Dr. Eitan Klein tells The Jerusalem Post, “The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death.”

 “We are talking about something very, very unique,” Klein says, according to CNN.

Pottery and jewelry dating to 2,300 years ago has been discovered in a cave in northern Israel.

Pottery and jewelry dating to 2,300 years ago has been discovered in a cave in northern Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

It seems the original owners never returned, and the rare items remained behind as a time capsule, giving a glimpse into the lives of possible refugees from over 2,300 years ago.

Realizing they’d found historically significant items, the cave explorers immediately contacted Israel Antiquities Authority officials (IAA), and a joint investigation of the cave was held. Remnants of pottery were discovered, but some of the ancient vessels have fused with the limestone stalactites of the cave, and cannot be removed. Mail Online adds that agate gemstones and an oil lamp were also found.

“After analyzing the findings in IAA’s laboratory, archeologists determined that some of the artifacts date back to the Chalcolithic period 6,000 years ago, Early Bronze Age 5,000 years ago, Biblical period 3,000 years ago, and the Hellenistic period, approximately 2,300 years ago,” writes The Jerusalem Post.

This find comes after the discovery of a massive hoard of almost 2,000 gold coins by divers in the ancient harbor in Caesarea, Israel. These coins, which are over 1,000 years old, constitute the largest find of its kind in the country. It is believed the treasure belongs to a shipwreck of an official treasury boat on its way to Egypt with collected taxes.

Gold coins found at ancient port in Caesarea.

Gold coins found at ancient port in Caesarea. Credit: Carla Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority

For now the cave’s location remains a secret, and further examinations of the Galilee cave by archaeologists and geologists are planned. It is hoped future digs will reveal other interesting and important finds which will shed light on the lives and times of ancient Israel.

Featured Image: Silver coins and other ‘buried treasure’ were located by explorers in a cave in northern Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

By Liz Leafloor    

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