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Fatimid Gold Coins

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority have found a small jar containing four 1,000-year-old gold coins in Jerusalem, Israel.

The 1,000-year-old juglet with found gold coins. Image credit: Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 1,000-year-old juglet with found gold coins. Image credit: Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The coins were in excellent preservation and were immediately identifiable even without cleaning,” said Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The coins date from a relatively brief period, from the late 940s to the 970s CE (Fatimid period).”

“This was a time of radical political change, when control over the Land of Israel passed from the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, whose capital was Baghdad, Iraq, into the hands of its Shiite rivals — the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa, who conquered Egypt, Syria and the Land of Israel in those years.”

Two gold dinars from the cache were minted in Ramla during the rule of Caliph al-Muti (946-974 CE) and his regional governor, Abu Ali al-Qasim ibn al-Ihshid Unujur (946-961 CE).

The other two coins were minted in Cairo by the Fatimid rulers al-Muizz (953-975 CE) and his successor, al-Aziz (975-996 CE).

“This is the first time in 50 years that a gold cache from the Fatimid period has been discovered in Jerusalem’s Old City,” Dr. Kool said.

“In the large-scale excavations directed by Professor Benjamin Mazar after the Six Day War, not far from the current discovery, five coin and jewelry hoards from this period were uncovered south of the Temple Mount.”

“Four dinars was a considerable sum of money for most of the population, who lived under difficult conditions at the time,” he said.

“It was equal to the monthly salary of a minor official, or four months’ salary for a common laborer.”

“Compared with those people, the small handful of wealthy officials and merchants in the city earned huge salaries and amassed vast wealth.”

“A senior treasury official could earn 7,000 gold dinars a month, and also receive additional incomes from his rural estates amounting to hundreds of thousands of gold dinars a year.”

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