Scuba divers in Israel have discovered the largest collection of gold coins dating back more than 1,000 years. According to the country's antiquities authority, about 2,000 pieces of gold coins discovered on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea, in the Israel's Mediterranean coast.
The authority said gold coins that are weighed nine kilograms (almost 20 pounds) are "priceless". Experts from the authority called to the site uncovered "almost 2,000 gold coins in different denominations" circulated by the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171.
Kobi Sharvit, director of the marine archaeology unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said excavations would be carried out in the hope of shedding more light on the origin of the treasure.
"There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected," said Sharvit.
The Antiquities Law provides for a punishment of up to five years in jail for the illegal removal or sale of antiquities.
The oldest coin found is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the ninth century CE, the authority said. Most of the coins were minted under the Fatimid caliphs Al-Hakim (996– 1021 CE) and his son Al-Zahir (1021–1036), and were produced in Egypt or elsewhere in North Africa.
The Fatimids developed Caesarea and other coastal cities in the area.
Photo credit: Carla Amit- Israel Antiquities Authority