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U.S. Student Volunteers on Dig Find Priceless Byzantine Coins

A group of American student volunteers from Minnesota have unearthed a rare and priceless archaeological treasure of 99 ancient gold coins at a dig in the ancient port city of Caesaria.

The coins, dating back some 1,500 years to the Byzantine period, are known as “solidi,” the cash currency of the time. Found under the floor of a home of an affluent family of the time, the coins shed light on the economic and commercial life of ancient Caesaria and the standard of living of the people.

The total weight of the coins amounts to about 16 ounces.

The find, the first of its kind in Caesaria and one extremely rare anywhere in the world, was uncovered as part of a large-scale archaeological dig being undertaken by the Combined Caesaria Expedition, sponsored by the University of Haifa’s Recanati Center for Maritime Studies and the University of Maryland.

The group works in cooperation with a consortium of other American universities as well. The students involved in this dig were from Minnesota’s Concordia College.

Directing the team are Professors Avner Raban and Joseph Patrich of Haifa University and Professor Kenneth Holum of the University of Maryland.

The coins, found in a kind of safe made from a broken basalt flour mill, were uncovered by the student volunteers, led by Professor Robert Bull of Drew University in New Jersey and Olen Storvick of Concordia College.

The coins, excellently preserved, were minted in the second half of the fourth century C.E.

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