The Land of Israel constantly reveals hidden treasures, testifying to its rich history. This time, a hiker discovered a rare coin in the Galilee from the Roman Era.

Laurie Rimon was hiking with friends in the countryside in the eastern Galilee when she noticed a shiny object in the grass. When she picked it up she realized it was an ancient gold coin. The group’s guide contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and within two hours an IAA representative joined the group of hikers in the field.

Laurie turned the rare find over to him admitting, “It was not easy parting with the coin. After all, it is not every day one discovers such an amazing object, but I hope I will see it displayed in a museum in the near future.”

Close examination of the coin revealed it was about 2,000 years old, from the Roman Era. The coin bears the image of Emperor Augustus and was minted by Emperor Trajan. This coin, from 107 CE, was part of a series of nostalgic coins that Emperor Trajan minted and dedicated to the Roman emperors that ruled before him.

The coin is apparently only the second such coin to have ever been found. The British Museum possesses a similar ancient gold coin, which until now was the only one of its kind known in the world.

Laurie Rimo

Laurie Rimon with the coin. (Samuel Magal/IAA)

Nir Distelfeld, an inspector with the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery lauded Laurie’s “exemplary civic behaviour” exhibited by handing this important coin over to the IAA.

“This is an extraordinarily remarkable and surprising discovery,” Distelfeld noted. “I believe that soon, thanks to Laurie, the public will be able to enjoy this rare find. It is important to know that when you find an archaeological artifact it is advisable to call IAA representatives to the location spot in the field. That way we can also gather the relevant archaeological and contextual information from the site”.

The IAA intends to award Laurie a certificate of appreciation for her good citizenship.

Dr. Danny Syon, a senior numismatist at the IAA, pointed out that the coin “is rare on a global level. On the reverse we have the symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the ruler Trajan, and on the obverse – instead of an image of the emperor Trajan, as was usually the case, there is the portrait of the emperor ‘Augustus Deified.’ This coin is part of a series of coins minted by Trajan as a tribute to the emperors that preceded him.”

Rare coin

Symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the ruler Trajan. (Samuel Magal/IAA)

Dr. Donald T. Ariel, head curator of the coin department at the IAA, explained that the coin reflects the presence of the Roman army in the region some 2,000 years ago, “possibly in the context of activity against Bar Kochba [rebellion] supporters in the Galilee.”

“Historical sources describing the period note that some Roman soldiers were paid a high salary of three gold coins, the equivalent of 75 silver coins, each payday. Because of their high monetary value soldiers were unable to purchase goods in the market with gold coins, as the merchants could not provide change for them”. Ariel added, “Whilst the bronze and silver coins of Emperor Trajan are common in the country, his gold coins are extremely rare. So far, only two other gold coins of this emperor have been registered in the State Treasures, one from Givat Shaul near Jerusalem, and the other from the Kiryat Gat region and the details on both of them are different to those that appear on the rare coin that Laurie found.”

Almost any site in Israel was previously inhabited by long-gone cultures and civilizations, and Israelis regularly chance upon rare archaeological finds.

Just last month, a seven-year-old boy on a field trip in the Beit Sheʽan Valley chanced upon a rare and unique archaeological find – a small figurine believed to be used for ritual purposes during the Canaanite era some 3,400 years ago.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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