Hiker Finds Extremely Rare Gold Coin in Israel
A woman in the Galilee region of Israel stumbled across a rare gold coin while hiking with friends. The coin dates back to the year 107 AD and depicts the Roman Emperor Augustus. Only one other coin bears the likeness to it, and that one is a part of the collection of the British Museum. The Israel State Treasures have just two other gold coins that were also minted by the emperor Trajan.
Arutz Sheva reports that the coin was found by Laurie Rimon, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Blum in northern Israel while she was resting during a hike near an archaeological site. Rimon showed the artifact to the group’s guide who quickly contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Soon after an IAA representative joined the group of hikers and Rimon turned the rare find over to him admitting, “It was not easy parting with the coin. After all, it is not every day one discovers such an amazing object, but I hope I will see it displayed in a museum in the near future."
Rimon will be awarded with a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship for her honesty. Nir Distelfeld, an inspector with the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, also thanked Rimon for her act. “This is an extraordinarily remarkable and surprising discovery. I believe that soon, thanks to Laurie, the public will be able to enjoy this rare find.”
Laurie Rimon with the coin. ( Samuel Magal, Israel Antiquities Authority )
Just a couple of weeks ago, a young boy also made lucky discovery while hiking in northern Israel, at the Beit She’an Valley site. Like Rimon, he too was praised for his honesty and awarded with a certificate by the IAA. The fortunate boy had unearthed a 3,400-year-old Canaanite Figurine .
Returning to the gold coin, the Jerusalem Post says that it “was minted by Emperor Trajan as part of a series of nostalgic coins that Trajan minted and dedicated to the Roman emperors that ruled before him.”
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Trajan was a Roman emperor from 98 AD until his death in 117 AD. During his lifetime he reshaped the city of Rome and left numerous enduring landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column. As a person and ruler he was often regarded in a positive light. Pliny the Younger, for example, celebrated Trajan as a wise and just emperor and a moral man. Cassius Dio also said that Trajan always remained dignified and fair.
Bust of Trajan with the Civic Crown, a sword belt and the aegis (attribute of Jupiter and symbol of divine power). ( Public Domain )
Speaking on the rarity of the coin, Donald T. Ariel, head curator of the coin department at the IAA said that,
“While the bronze and silver coins of Emperor Trajan are common in the country, his gold coins are extremely rare. So far, only two other gold coins of this emperor have been registered in the State Treasures, one from Givat Shaul near Jerusalem, and the other from the Kiryat Gat region and the details on both of them are different to those that appear on the rare coin that Laurie found.”
Furthermore, Dr. Danny Syon, a senior numismatist of the IAA told the Jerusalem Post, “This coin, minted in Rome in 107 CE, is rare on a global level. On the reverse, we have the symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the ruler Trajan, and on the obverse – instead of an image of the emperor Trajan, as was usually the case, there is the portrait of the emperor ‘Augustus Deified.’”
Symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the ruler Trajan on a 2,000-year-old gold coin found in northern Israel. ( Samuel Magal, Israel Antiquities Authority )
Ariel has proposed that the importance of the coin goes further as it “may reflect the presence of the Roman army in the region some 2,000 years ago – possibly in the context of activity against Bar Kochba supporters in the Galilee – but it is very difficult to determine that on the basis of a single coin.”
The Bar Kochba (Bar Kokhba) revolt was a Jewish rebellion against the Romans in Israel during 132-136 AD because of harsh treatment. At least some members of the legions were apparently well-compensated at the time. Ariel told the Times of Israel :
“Historical sources describing the period note that some Roman soldiers were paid a high salary of three gold coins, the equivalent of 75 silver coins, each payday. Because of their high monetary value soldiers were unable to purchase goods in the market with gold coins, as the merchants could not provide change for them.”
Although the coin is probably not be related, the Roman Tenth Legion was one of the groups of soldiers that were in Israel during the revolt. They were also one of the four legions that took part in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Recent discoveries in Jerusalem showed that the legion were moderately cared for, if the remains of a winery and Roman bathhouse from about 1,600 years ago are any indication.
Featured Image: The extremely rare gold coin. Source: Samuel Magal, Israel Antiquities Authority