Smuggler caught at Gaza border with coins from time of Alexander the Great
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Smuggler caught at Gaza border with coins from time of Alexander the Great

Palestinian man was attempting to take two ‘rare, highly prized’ tetradrachm coins, imprinted in Babylon and northern Greece between 323 and 325 BCE, out of territory

Two coins imprinted between 323 and 325 BCE, during the last years of Alexander the Great's reign, found in a smuggler's luggage at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border on November 7, 2018. (Courtesy Defense Ministry/COGAT)
Two coins imprinted between 323 and 325 BCE, during the last years of Alexander the Great's reign, found in a smuggler's luggage at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border on November 7, 2018. (Courtesy Defense Ministry/COGAT)

Israeli guards at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border this week apparently foiled an attempt to smuggle out two ancient coins from the period of Alexander the Great out of the coastal enclave, Israeli officials said Friday.

During searches of a Palestinian man leaving the Strip, the coins were found in a bag of similarly silver-colored modern Israeli one-shekel coins.

Officials from the Civilian Administration’s Archaeology Unit identified them as tetradrachm, or four-drachmae, coins produced between 323 and 325 BCE, either in the last years of Alexander the Great’s reign or shortly after his death.

One was pressed in Babylon and the second in Amphipolis in northern Greece.

Both are “rare, highly prized and culturally significant,” the army said in a statement about the capture.

Palestinians wait while others present travel documents to Palestinian Authority officers at the Erez Crossing with Israel near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on August 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

The coins were confiscated by the Civil Administration.

The smuggler was identified only as a Gazan resident in his 40s.

There was no intelligence leading up to the find, according to officials. The coins were discovered in a “routine” examination of the man’s luggage.

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