Israeli archeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) uncovered 44 Byzantine gold coins in Northern Israel, providing further evidence of the Muslim conquest of the Byzantine Empire in the Levant region.
In a post on Facebook, the IAA said the excavation was at the site of Paneas – later called Banias – within the Hermon River National Park. According to Christian tradition, Banias is believed to be where Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ.
The ancient excavation site also has historical roots dating back to the time of the Canaanites, who dedicated a shrine to the god Baal and was later used as a cultic site to the god Pan during the Hellenistic period.
According to Israel Antiquities Authority numismatic expert Dr. Gabriela Bijovsky, the coins in the ancient gold hoard were minted by Byzantine Emperors Phocas (602–610 AD) and Emperor Heraclius (610–641 AD).
Based on the latest coins of Heraclius, the coin hoard is believed to date back to 635 AD, when the Muslim Conquest of Byzantine Palestine took place.
“The coin hoard, weighing about 170 g, was concealed within the base of an ashlar stone wall at the time of the Muslim conquest. The discovery reflects a specific moment in time when we can imagine the owner concealing his fortune in the threat of war, hoping to return one day to retrieve his property. In retrospect, we know that he was less fortunate,” Dr. Yoav Lerer, Director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained.
“The discovery of the coin hoard may also shed light on the economy of the city of Banias during the last 40 years of Byzantine rule,” Lerer added.
“Most of the coins are of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius,” Dr. Bijovsky said, “and what is particularly interesting is that in his early years as emperor, only his portrait was depicted on the coin, whereas after a short time, the images of his sons also appear. One can actually follow his sons growing up – from childhood until their image appears the same size as their father, who is depicted with a long beard.”
In addition to the coins, the evacuation found a variety of artifacts, including a pottery kiln, bronze coins, pottery and glass fragments, and metal artifacts.
Photo courtesy: ©Yaniv Berman/Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority Facebook
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.