264 gold coins were uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority earlier this week near the City of David, in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park. The hoard was found during ongoing excavations at the site, amid the ruins of a large building that dates to about the seventh century CE.
According to Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “Since no pottery vessel was discovered adjacent to the hoard, we can assume that it was concealed inside a hidden niche in one of the walls of the building. It seems that, with its collapse, the coins piled up there among the building debris”. Ben-Ami and Tchekhanovets claim that this finding is “one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem – certainly the largest and most important of its period."
All of the coins bear the likeness of the emperor Heraclius (610-641 CE). Different coins were minted during this emperor’s reign; however, all of the coins that were discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem belong to one well-known type in which the likeness of the emperor wearing military garb and holding a cross in his right hand is depicted on the obverse, while the sign of the cross is on the reverse. These coins were minted at the beginning of Heraclius’ reign (between the years 610-613 CE), one year before the Persians conquered Byzantine Jerusalem (614 CE). The only other hoard of gold coins from the Byzantine period that has been discovered to date in Jerusalem consisted of only five gold coins
Although gold is not normally discovered in archeological excavations, a surprisingly well preserved gold earring, inlaid with pearls and precious stones, was also recently discovered at this site.
The excavations at the site are being carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and are underwritten by the Ir David Foundation.