Ancient ‘piggy bank’ of gold coins uncovered at dig in central Israel
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Ancient ‘piggy bank’ of gold coins uncovered at dig in central Israel

Archaeologists find seven pieces hidden inside juglet among remains of large 7th century CE industrial site at Yavne, assess hoard was potter’s savings

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Five ancient gold coins from the Earlier Islamic Period 7th-9th centuries CE, found at a dig in Yavne, central Israel, December 2019. (Liat Nadav-Ziv/Israel Antiquities Authority)
Five ancient gold coins from the Earlier Islamic Period 7th-9th centuries CE, found at a dig in Yavne, central Israel, December 2019. (Liat Nadav-Ziv/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A hoard of seven ancient gold coins was found hidden inside a small clay juglet during a dig in the area of Yavne, in the central region of the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday.

The coins date back to the Earlier Islamic period of the seventh-ninth centuries CE. They were found last week at the entrance to a kiln at the site.

“This may be a potter’s personal savings,” the IAA said in a statement. The jug, which was partially broken, “may have been a piggy bank,” it said.

Archaeologists uncovered an ancient industrial area at the site that appears to have operated for several hundred years and included an unusually large number of pottery kilns.

The kilns produced store jars, cooking pots and bowls, according to the IAA.

Archaeologist Liat Nadav-Ziv, right and Marc Molkondov with a hoard gold of coins found at a dig in Yavne, December 2019. (Amihai Tamir, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologist Liat Nadav-Ziv, co-director of the excavation along with Elie Haddad, said there was great excitement at the dig when the gold coins were found.

She noted the find came during Hanukkah, an eight-day festival ending Monday during which there is a custom to gift chocolate gold coins.

“This is without a doubt a unique and exciting find especially during the Hannukah holiday,” she said.

Excavations of the site also uncovered a large wine-producing installation dating from the Persian period of the 4th-5th centuries BCE.

A collecting vat dating to the Persian period, 7th-5th centuries BCE, uncovered during a dig in Yavne. (Idan Jonish/Israel Antiquities Authority)

“The size and number of vats found at the site indicated that wine was produced on a commercial scale, well beyond the local needs of Yavne’s ancient inhabitants,” Haddad said.

The Israel Land Authority is funding the dig at the site ahead of the construction of a new neighborhood there.

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