1,400-Year-Old Coin Hoard was Discovered in Excavations near Highway No. 1

March 20, 2017

The buried coins were revealed beneath the ruins of a building that was part of
a large complex which apparently served Christian pilgrims on their
way to Jerusalem. According to the excavation director, "The hoard
constitutes evidence of the Persian invasion at the end of the Byzantine period,
which led to the abandonment of the site"
 
A cache of nine bronze coins from the end of the Byzantine period (7th Century CE) was discovered in salvage excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (and financed by the Netivei Israel Company) as part of widening Highway No. 1, near ʽEn Hemedʽ. 
 

During the course of the excavations, which were carried out last June, a large two-story structure and an adjacent built complex winepress were exposed. According to Annette Landes-Nagar, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "Thehoard was found within large stones that collapsed alongside the building. It seems that the owner of the hoard placed the coins in a cloth purse that he concealed inside a hidden niche in the wall before he fled his home. He probably hoped to go back and collect it, but today we know that he was unable to do so".
 
 
 
 
The coins bear the images of three important Byzantine emperors: Justinian (483-565 AD), Maurice (539-602 CE) and Phocas (547-610 CE). They were struck at three different mints, Constantinople, Antioch, and Nicomedia, all of which are located in what is today Turkey. An image of the emperor wearing military garb and carrying crosses is depicted on the obverse of the coins, while the reverse indicates the coin's denomination and is usually inscribed with the letter M.
 
 
 
 
 
 

According to Landes-Nagar, "The hoard indicates that the site was not populated since. The historical background to its having been hidden is apparently related to the Sassanid Persian invasion that occurred in 614 CE. This invasion was one of the factors that culminated in the end of Byzantine rule in the Land of Israel".
 
Fearing an invasion and imminent danger, the residents of the site buried their money within the wall hoping to return home at the end of the disturbances, which did not happen. The site was abandoned and destroyed, and ultimately covered over and incorporated in the agricultural terraces that characterize the region.
 
 
 
The building and the winepress beside it belong to a larger site that extends across Highway No. 1, and which was exposed on the other side of the road about a year ago. A Byzantine church was revealed in that part of the excavation. The investigation of the site
raised the hypothesis that this is a settlement called Einbikumakubeand that the name was preserved in that of the neighboring Arab village of Beit Naquba. This site is situated alongside a main road leading from the coastal plain to Jerusalem. Settlements and way stations, some of which were near flowing springs, developed next to the road that was used by Christian pilgrims who were traveling to Jerusalem.
 
 
 
 
 
According to Amit Shadman, the district archaeologist for Judah, "The Israel Antiquities Authority and Netivei Israel are working together to conserve the site as a landmark in the scenery alongside Highway No. 1."
 
photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
 

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