August 31, 2020
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
Parodically, I take a break from the “hot and heavy” political news of the Middle East to catch up with what archeologist are turning up. Possibly, nowhere in the world have the digs turned up such amazing finds and treasurers. These experts about the past are chancing how we read history. Here’s the latest.
A rare hoard of 425 gold coins from the Abbasid Caliphate, dating around 1,100 years ago, was uncovered by teenage volunteers at an archaeological excavation in the center of the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday. The trove was discovered by a group of young people carrying out volunteer work ahead of their mandatory army service.
“It was amazing.” said teen Oz Cohen. “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. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.” Excavation directors Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad said that it was assumed that whoever buried the coins would have expected they would be able to retrieve the hoard, and that the find could point to international trade carried out by the area’s residents.
“Finding gold coins, certainly in such a considerable quantity, is extremely rare. We almost never find them in archaeological excavations, given that gold has always been extremely valuable, melted down and reused from generation to generation,” the directors. “The coins, made of pure gold that does not oxidize in air, were found in excellent condition, as if buried the day before. Their finding may indicate that international trade took place between the area’s residents and remote areas,” the statement read.
Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert at the IAA, said that the total weight of the hoard — around 845 grams of pure gold — would have been a significant amount of money at the end of the 9th century. “For example, with such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the enormous wealthy capital of Egypt in those days,” Kool said that at the time, the region was part of the Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Persia to North Africa, with a central seat of government in Baghdad.
“The hoard consists of full gold dinars, but also — what is unusual — contains about 270 small gold cuttings, pieces of gold dinars cut to serve as small change,” Kool said.
He added that one of those cuttings was exceptionally rare and never before found in excavations in Israel — a fragment of a gold solidus of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829 – 842 CE), minted in the empire’s capital of Constantinople.
YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.