Just days ago when Yotam Dahan was out camping with his family, he was very surprised to have found a lump of ancient coins. He made the discovery while out on Neve Yam beach which is close to the northern coastal town of Atlit, Israel.
Dahan, who is a tour guide from Western Galilee, noticed something sparkling in the sand behind their tent so he went to investigate and that’s when he found the lump of coins. Weighing a hefty 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms), the coins were believed to have been on board a merchant ship that wrecked on the shore about 1,700 years ago.
After Dahan posted his discovery on social media, archaeologist Karem Said from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) contacted him and met up the following day at the site where the coins were found. A coin expert from the IAA named Dr. Donald Zvi-Ariel estimated that the doubloons (Spanish gold coins) date back to the start of the 4th century.
As for why they were all lumped together, Jacob Sharvit, who is the director of the IAA's Marine Archaeology Unit, explained that “the large ball of coins and the remnants of cloth left on it indicate that they were kept in a bag and clustered together, taking the shape of the bag as the metal oxidized in the marine environment. Given the large number of coins, it appears that the coins belonged to a ship and were used for trade.”
As a matter of fact, archaeological surveys conducted by the IAA revealed the remains of an ancient cargo ship dating back to the Roman Period. They discovered some cargo as well as anchors and pottery.
Dahan’s discovery of the coins in addition to nearby archaeological sites is providing experts with important information regarding inhabitants of the area dating back approximately 9,000 years during the Neolithic Period. They also found evidence of lots of maritime activity that began about 4,000 years ago during the Middle Bronze Age. Unfortunately for many maritime travelers, numerous ships ended up wrecking in that area as proven by the coins found by Dahan that were believed to have belonged to one of those vessels.
Pictures of the coins can be seen here.