Archaeologists find 1,300-year-old treasure in IsraelDecember 24th, 2008 - 3:08 am ICT by IANS
Jerusalem, Dec 24 (DPA) Israeli archaeologists have found a rare, 1,300-year-old treasure under a car park just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem - 264 golden coins from the Byzantine Empire.The coins bear the image of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who ruled over the medieval successor to the Roman Empire from 610 to 641 AD.
A team led by Israeli archaeologists Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets found the coins Sunday, during excavation work of a “large and very impressive” seventh-century building which began about two years ago.
According to Ben-Ami of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the golden coin hoard is one of the largest ever found in Israel and the largest in Jerusalem.
The only previous time golden coins were found in Jerusalem was more than a decade ago and that hoard included only five coins, which also dated to the - late - Byzantine period, Ben-Ami said.
In the early 610s, the Byzantines lost what is now Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian areas to the Persian Empire.
Heraclius recovered the lost provinces in three costly campaigns by 629 AD, but they fell shortly afterwards to the Muslim Arabs, who would subsequently rule the land for the next four centuries through caliphs seated in Damascus, Baghdad and Egypt - until the Crusaders and then the Ottoman Turks took over.