A group of young volunteer archaeologists have made an extremely rare find in central Israel, after digging up a clay urn filled with solid gold coins from the 9th century Abbasid Caliphate.

The hoard consisted of full gold Dinar coins, clipped coins, and even a gold Solidus from the nearby Byzantine Empire, with a total weight 845 grams.

Israeli Gold Coin Hoard

The discovery in Israel of ancient gold coins, as seen on the Israel Antiquities Authority Official Channel on YouTube

The urn contained over 425 pure 24-carat gold coins in various forms and had been buried for safe keeping. The team revealed a nail had been driven into the ground to help keep the urn undisturbed. Director of the group – Liat Nadav-Ziv – said: “The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move. We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure.

While hoards like this are not unheard of – with the UK famed for finds like the Bylthburgh Hoard – it is still unusual to find large amounts of coins buried in this manner. The valuable nature of gold means that people inevitably want to spend it, while coins are also often melted down and incorporated into new generations of currency every few centuries throughout history.

The honour of the discovery goes to volunteer Oz Cohen who said – “It was amazing. I dug in the ground and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again, I saw these were gold coins.

At the time, the Dinar would have been a very valuable coin, and used for large purchases only. A collection of this quantity would have been a princely sum and could have purchased an opulent house for their owner. The clippings represented those traders who needed to halve or quarter the amount they spent – by literally physically cutting the gold coins.

On metal value alone the coins would be a valuable find, but such a hoard will inevitably draw the attention of collectors and could fetch a far higher price if sold. They will also be sure to draw of lot of excitement and interest with museums as a rare example of the golden currency used throughout history.