Cave explorers in Israel have uncovered a small trove of coins and jewellery from the time of Alexander the Great that archaeologists believe was hidden by refugees during an ancient war.
The 2,300-year-old treasure was the first of its kind to be found from the period of the conqueror, said Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority and members of the Israeli Caving Club search for items in a cave in northern Israel
Just last month, scuba divers off Israel’s coast came upon an even larger find – about 2,000 gold coins from the 11th century that archaeologists hope will shed light on Muslim rule during that time.
Hikers discovered the latest horde in a narrow crevice of a stalactite cave in the Galilee region. It included two silver coins minted during Alexander’s reign and several pieces of silver jewellery, including rings, bracelets and earrings.
“The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander,” the Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
Some of the items discovered
“Presumably the cache was hidden in the hope of better days.”
Alexander the Great, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, led a military campaign throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. He died in Babylonia, the present day Iraq, in 323 B.C.
Coins and jewellery from the time of Alexander the Great are displayed in Jerusalem
It is thought the coins and treasures were stashed by the ancient owners during political unrest, assumedly to be retrieved when it was safe to do so.
Deputy director of the authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, Dr. Eitan Klein tells The Jerusalem Post, “The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death.”
“We are talking about something very, very unique,” Klein says, according to CNN.
Pottery and jewelry dating to 2,300 years ago has been discovered in a cave in northern Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
It seems the original owners never returned, and the rare items remained behind as a time capsule, giving a glimpse into the lives of possible refugees from over 2,300 years ago.
Realizing they’d found historically significant items, the cave explorers immediately contactedIsrael Antiquities Authority officials (IAA), and a joint investigation of the cave was held. Remnants of pottery were discovered, but some of the ancient vessels have fused with the limestone stalactites of the cave, and cannot be removed. Mail Online adds that agate gemstones and an oil lamp were also found.
“After analyzing the findings in IAA’s laboratory, archeologists determined that some of the artifacts date back to the Chalcolithic period 6,000 years ago, Early Bronze Age 5,000 years ago, Biblical period 3,000 years ago, and the Hellenistic period, approximately 2,300 years ago,” writes The Jerusalem Post.
This find comes after the discovery of a massive hoard of almost 2,000 gold coins by divers in the ancient harbor in Caesarea, Israel. These coins, which are over 1,000 years old, constitute the largest find of its kind in the country. It is believed the treasure belongs to a shipwreck of an official treasury boat on its way to Egypt with collected taxes.
Gold coins found at ancient port in Caesarea. Credit: Carla Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority
For now the cave’s location remains a secret, and further examinations of the Galilee cave by archaeologists and geologists are planned. It is hoped future digs will reveal other interesting and important finds which will shed light on the lives and times of ancient Israel.
Featured Image: Silver coins and other ‘buried treasure’ were located by explorers in a cave in northern Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
Telegraph UK http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/11462332/Alexander-the-Great-era-treasure-found-in-Israel.html
Ancient Origins http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/explorers-find-hidden-treasure-cave-coins-and-jewelry-020251