1400-year-old Byzantine coins found near Jerusalem

A stash of bronze coins dating to the fifth through seventh centuries has been found on the highway leading to Jerusalem in an archaeological excavation that began in June 2016. Archaeologists believe the coins may have belonged to Christians fleeing the invading Persian forces, reports Christian Today. The coins discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority were easily dated as they bear the image of the Byzantine emperors during whose reign they were made. Three periods are represented in the find: the reigns of Emperor St. Justinian (483-565), Maurice (539-602), and Phocas (547-610). Each coin depicts its respective ruler in military dress and bearing a cross.

The coins were unearthed near a collapsed building which once served as a pilgrim center for those on their way to the Holy City of Jerusalem. “It seems that during a time of danger the owner of the hoard placed the coins in a cloth purse that he concealed inside a hidden niche in the wall. He probably hoped to go back and collect it,” said excavation director Annette Landes-Nagar. The coins were found amongst the large rocks of the collapsed building. Archaeologists believe the coins were stashed by Christians feeling in the coming Sassanid Persian invasion in 614. The pilgrimage center, where the coins were hidden, was abandoned until it eventually disappeared. The excavation also discovered a winepress, and there are ruins of a Byzantine church nearby. The excavation was undertaken in advance of the planned widening of Highway 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.