Rare discovery of thousand-year-old gold coins in the Old City of Jerusalem

A first since 1967. Archaeologists have unearthed during excavations near the Western Wall, a small jug containing coins forged in the precious metal.

The pieces date from the end of the 10th century (between 940 and 970).
The pieces date from the end of the 10th century (between 940 and 970). MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP

A rare find, testimony to a time of political upheaval in the Middle East. Israeli archaeologists have discovered four pure gold coins in the Old City of Jerusalem, which were minted over a thousand years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (AIA) said the coins were discovered during excavations near the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place of prayer. The artefacts, contained in a small jug, “were in excellent preservation and immediately identifiable even without cleaning themAIA antique parts specialist Robert Kool said in a statement.

The pieces date from the end of the 10th century AD (between 940 and 970), “a time of radical political change“In Jerusalem and the surrounding area, according to Robert Kool. During this period, the ruling Sunni Abbasid Caliphate, which was headquartered in Baghdad, lost control of Jerusalem to its rival, the Fatimid dynasty which will rule from Cairo for more than two centuries.

«It is the first time in fifty years that a gold cache from the Fatimid period has been discovered in the Old City of Jerusalem», Said the specialist. Israeli archaeologists last discovered Fatimid-period gold shortly after the 1967 Six Day War, which saw Israel take control of East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the city, from Jordan, before to annex it.

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