Rare Gold Coin from Roman Period Found in Northern Israel

Marcus Ulpius Traianus, better known as Trajan, became the Roman Emperor in 98 CE and ruled until 117 CE. He is known for his role in improving the dilapidated road system, constructing aqueducts and building public baths. He was also involved in the financial aspects of running the empire, being credited for lowering the taxes and minting a series of nostalgic coins dedicated to his political predecessors.

Roman soldiers of that time could be paid a high salary of three gold coins each payday, which was the equivalent of 75 silver coins. In 1st century Israel, soldiers could not buy food with these gold coins as the vendors in the markets couldn’t supply change so they were paid predominantly in silver and bronze; a few of which have been found at various archaeological sites.

None of this would have been common knowledge in today’s Israel if it weren’t for an unsuspecting Israeli resident of northern Kibbutz Kfar Blum who went hiking in the Galilee recently. On a guided tour, Laurie Rimon saw something shiny on the ground and on further inspection saw that it was a gold coin. The tour guide immediately called the Israel Antiquities Authority and was put in contact with Dr. Donald T. Ariel, who is the head curator of the coin department there. He explains that this coin has the image of Roman Emperor Augustus and on the reverse there are the symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the Emperor Trajan. A senior numismatist at the Israel Antiquities Authority said that this was “rare on a global level”. It was minted in Rome nearly 2,000-years ago and dates back to the year 107 CE.

There has only been one other coin exactly like this found and it is housed in the British Museum. An inspector with the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery praised Ms Rimon for her exemplary civic behavior by handing this important coin over to the Antiquities Authority and said she will be awarded a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.

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I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. – Isaiah 45:3