Spectacular Gold and Silver Treasure

June 8, 2012

A spectacular and extraordinary 2,000 year old gold and silver hoard was uncovered in an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the  Qiryat Gat Region. The treasure trove, comprising some 140 gold and silver coins as well as gold jewelry, was probably hidden by a wealthy woman at a time of impending danger during the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132 - 135 CE).  

During the excavation, remains of a building dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods were exposed. A pit that was dug and refilled in antiquity was discerned in the building's courtyard. To the archaeologist's surprise, a spectacular treasure hoard of exquisite quality was discovered inside the pit.  The treasure was originally wrapped in a cloth fabric of which only several fragments remained on the artifacts. 

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority Excavation Director archaeologist Emil Aladjem, "The magnificent hoard includes gold jewelry, among them an earring crafted by a jeweler in the shape of a flower and a ring with a precious stone on which there is a seal of a winged-goddess, two sticks of silver that were probably kohl sticks, as well as some 140 gold and silver coins. The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 CE. 

The coins are adorned with the images of the emperors and on their reverse are cultic portrayals of the emperor, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne, or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand."  

Sa'ar Ganor, District Archaeologist of Ashkelon and the Western Negev for the Israel Antiquities Authority adds,  "The composition of the numismatic artifacts and their quality are consistent with treasure troves that were previously attributed to the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. During the uprising, between 132-135 CE, the Jews under Roman rule would re-strike coins of the emperor Trajan with symbols of the revolt. This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it."

The treasure hoard was removed from the field and transferred for treatment to the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. The jewelry objects will become part of our Jewelry collection in the Brandt-Lewis Family National Center for Ancient Jewelry, and the coins will become part of the Saul Fox National Coin Center, in the Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel  under construction in Jerusalem.

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