There is no doubt among historians that Israel was one of the most important places in the world during the ancient and medieval periods. The region saw more than its fair share of momentous battles and remained a disputed territory for nearly two millennia.
Not coincidentally, Israel has also been the location of some fantastic discoveries of gold and silver coins from these bygone eras.
Here Come the Crusades
Throughout the early portion of the Middle Ages, the pope (with the help of various European monarchies) commissioned a series of military expeditions to the Holy Land that are collectively referred to as "the Crusades." The first of these missions of conquest took place at the turn of the 12th century.
Right around this time period, between the years 1100 and 1118 C.E., a knight named Baldwin of Boulogne—whose lineage within the medieval nobility traced back to areas of modern-day France—led his army to Israel under the aegis of Pope Urban II. While there, Baldwin swiftly conquered the locals and established his own Kingdom of Jerusalem, ruling as Baldwin I. He had previously maneuvered to become the Count of Edessa and subsequently consolidated his power among the other crusader rulers of North Africa and the Levant. At the time, the Fatimid Caliphate was the hegemonic empire of the region.
The ancient port city known as Caesarea was one site of these epic massacres overseen by Baldwin I. Nearly everyone living in the town upon their arrival was killed or forced to flee the crusader forces, according to written sources of the time.
Other gold (and copper) Israeli coins
A new archaeological discovery shows that amid the conquest, somebody in Caesarea hid a considerable trove of wealth—and hid it so well that none have stumbled upon it until now!
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
As with so many cases of long-forgotten treasure, the owners were never able to return and retrieve their valuables. It's somewhat incredible the treasure was never found by later groups of crusaders, either.
A hoard of two dozen gold coins minted in the late 11th century were found inside a bronze pot. The pot was cleverly placed between the stones of a wall in Caesarea, left undisturbed for approximately 900 years. A single gold earring was included within the bronze pot.
It's unclear whether the cache of gold coins was left by a fleeing local or was the misplaced loot of a crusader.
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