Ancient Hoard of Gold Discovered in Israel

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An ancient jar containing a collection of gold coins dating back to the Mamluk era was discovered at the Mediterranean shore in Herzliya near Tel Aviv.

The gold cache was discovered a week ago in a dig at the Apollonia National Park a Tel Aviv university professor told Reuters on Monday.

[Professor Oren Tal, Tel Aviv University]:
"In one of the rooms that we excavated we found a gold coin hoard. The hold was basically with coins from the Fatimi period, which are earlier, some 250 years before the crusaders ruled the country."

The dig is a joint venture between Tel Aviv University and the Nature and Parks Authority in Israel and is aimed at exploring the layers of an almost destroyed crusader fortress on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.

[Professor Oren Tal, Tel Aviv University]:
"We don't have that many circulation of gold especially hoard's gold from the crusader period and our finding is in a way a rare finding within the archaeology of Israel that is dedicated to the crusader period. The coins again, they are Fatimi, and basically they were minted in Egypt probably in Alexandria and they still await further study because the finding is very recent."

According to archeologists the fortress on the coast line and the city beside it was one of the crusaders' most important strongholds in the area.

Historians say the fortress was then captured by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars who stormed the city after 40 days of siege.

The cache consists of 108 gold coins, 93 of them containing four grams of gold and 15 coins containing one gram.

Professor Tal has said he believes that these coins where hidden by a crusader just before the fortress fell to prevent the Mamluk army from finding it and perhaps with the hope of coming back to retrieve it some day.

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