In February of this year, amateur divers were exploring a Caesarean harbor when something shiny caught their attention. What they initially believed to be toy coins turned out to be extremely valuable 1,000 year old gold coins! The sighting was reported to the Israel Antiquities Authority and over 2,000 coins were eventually uncovered. It is believed that a recent winter storm was responsible for shifting the sands of the ocean floor, thus unearthing the precious coins.

Experts have identified them as dinars from the Fatimid caliphate, a Shia Islamic caliphate that ruled in the area from AD 909 to 1171. Both whole dinars and quarter dinars are among the coins found and are composed of 24 karat gold of around 95 percent purity. In spite of remaining buried in sand for centuries, the coins remained in pristine condition and did not require restoration efforts. Many of the coins display evidence of teeth marks, suggesting that skeptical vendors bit the coins to confirm their authenticity.

The value of these coins extends far beyond monetary worth. They also offer important information regarding the economy of the Fatimid caliphate. While failing to report the discovery of antiquities in Israel is highly illegal, unfortunately it is not uncommon. Looting of significant archaeological sites is a major problem in Israel. The divers were given the highest praise for their honorable actions of reporting this important discovery.