Earlier this year, four ninth-grade boys from the Haemeq Hamaaravi High School in Kibbutz Yifat located in Israel’s Jezreel Valley were out enjoying a glorious spring day by the Zippori Stream in the Galilee region near the Sanhedrin Trail. While hiking they found a rare gold coin on the ground. Intrigued by the coin and realizing it was no everyday find, they sought the advice of their history and geography teacher, Zohar Porshyn, who reached out to the expertise of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. The coin was determined to be extremely rare and dated back 1,600 years to the Byzantine Empire, then ruled by Emperor Theodosius II.
"This type of coin is known as a solidus, a gold coin minted in Constantinople, today's Istanbul, by Theodosius II, around 423-420 CE,” Gabi Bichovsky, a coin expert at the Antiquities Authority (the IAA), stated according to the Jerusalem Post. “This is the first time a coin of this kind has been discovered in the Land of Israel.”
“Similar coins are known from the Eastern Byzantine empire, but this is the first of its type discovered in Israel,” Dr. Gabriela Bijovsky with the IAA stated. “One side depicts the image of the emperor and the other shows the image of the Goddess Victory holding the Staff of the Cross.”
IAA anti-theft personnel requested possession of the coin, and the boys took the personnel to the exact place they located the coin to help provide more insights about this rare artifact. The coin has since been turned over to the State Treasuries. Each of the boys has subsequently been awarded a good citizenship certificate for turning in the coin to the government, especially given the coins are believed to be pretty much pure gold as were standardly minted in the days of the Late Roman Empire.
“The Sanhedrin Trail initiated by the IAA, tells the story of the Jewish leadership in the Galilee at the time of the Mishna and the Talmud in the Roman and Byzantine periods,” Yair Amitzur, IAA Chief Archaeologist stated. “It is symbolic that the gold coin discovered adjacent to the Sanhedrin Trail reflects the period of dramatic events when the Sanhedrin ceased to function in the Galilee, and the center of Jewish life transferred from the Galilee to Babylon.”
Written by Erin Parfet