Young volunteers for an archaeological dig in central Israel found 425 gold coins that had been buried in a clay pot for 1,100 years.
Most of the money dates back to the early Islamic period, when the area was part of the Abbasid Caliphate.
The coins weigh 845 g (30 oz) and would have been worth a huge sum when buried – enough to buy a luxurious home in one of the Caliphate towns.
Who owned the cache, and why they never came back for it, is a mystery.
“The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago had to expect to recover it, and even secured the ship with a nail so that it would not move,” said excavation director Liat Nadav- Ziv and Elie Haddad of Israeli Antiquities. Authority, said in a statement.
They added: “Finding gold coins, certainly in such huge quantities, is extremely rare. We hardly ever find them in archaeological digs, as gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation. ”
The youngster who discovered the treasure, Oz Cohen, said: “It was amazing. I dug in the ground and when I dug the ground I saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again, I saw that they were gold coins. ”
Robert Kool, a coin expert, said the cache consisted of whole gold dinars, but also 270 small cups of gold – pieces of dinars cut to serve as “loose change.”
He added that one of the cuttings was a fragment of a gold solidus from the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos minted in Constantinople, which was rare physical evidence of the continued connections between the two rival empires during this period.