An impressive, rare gold coin bearing the image of Napoleon III the 19th century French ruler, was discovered in an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation on Koifman Street in Jaffa. The Ten Franc coin was minted in Paris in 1856, at the time of the Second French Empire, and is made of almost completely pure gold (93%).
The image appearing on the obverse is that of Louis Napoleon III. In 1848 Napoleon III was elected President of the Second Republic and following a coup d'état in 1852, he appointed himself Empereur des Francais - like his famous uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte. He was captured in September 1870 at the Battle of Sedan during the Franco-Prussian war, and deposed two days later. He died in exile in England in 1873.
According to Robert Kool, an IAA numismatist, "The discovery of gold coins during archaeological excavations is a rare occurrence. This is the first time that such a coin was found in an excavation in Yaffo. However, we know that European gold coins were common in the Ottoman Empire which suffered a severe financial crisis in the late Nineteenth Century. Documents and coins that were found in the past in Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva attest to the popularity of European gold, especially in remote provinces like Palestine, until the end of the First World War."
The excavation on Koifman Street,which ended last week, was directed by archaeologist Eriola Jakoel of the Israel Antiquities Authority. In addition to the gold coin, foundations of buildings dating to the Late Ottoman period, as well as coins from different periods and fragments of pottery vessels from the Second Temple period to the late Ottoman periods were also discovered.
The Saul A. Fox National Coin Center, the most important such center in the country, comprises of more than 130,000 coins in the IAA's collections, spanning a period of some 2,300 years, from the invention of coinage in the 7th century BCE to the 17th century CE. The majority of coins are single finds from large and small excavations. In addition, the collection includes more than 150 hoards of gold, silver and bronze coins, beginning in the Persian period through to the Ottoman period. The collection's exceptional importance lies in the fact that the provenance of almost all the coins has been ascertained. Consequently, it constitutes one of the largest scientific numismatic data-bases of its kind in the world, ideally suited for in-depth study of coin-types, distribution patterns, and intra/inter-site circulation. The nucleus of the collection is comprised of a group of 10,000 coins acquired by numismatists from purchases and excavations between 1925 -1948.
The staff of the Saul A. Fox National Coin Center specializes in the identification, registration scientific publication and exhibitions of coins found in excavations. The Center enjoys real-time access to all new discoveries in the numismatic field in Israel. It also benefits from computerized access to a unique, and probably the largest, database of provenanced coins in the world.
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