Hiker Finds Incredibly Rare Ancient Coin

Laurie Rimon noticed it while hiking in Israel
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2016 4:12 PM CDT
Updated Mar 14, 2016 5:30 PM CDT
Hiker Finds Incredibly Rare Ancient Coin
A rare, nearly 2,000-year-old gold coin under a magnifying glass at the Antiquities Authority office inside the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Monday, March 14, 2016.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Look twice next time you see a glimmer in the grass—it might be a bit of history. So Laurie Rimon learned when she spotted a gold coin while hiking in the Galilee area of northern Israel last week, NPR reports. Amazingly, the coin was minted by Roman Emperor Trajan in AD107 and may shed light on Rome's military presence there at the time. "It's extremely exciting," says Israeli antiquities expert Donald Ariel. "[Trajan's] gold coins are extremely rare." This one was from a series made by Trajan honoring previous emperors: It shows Augustus and calls him "Divus Augustus" (meaning "Augustus the Divine") because he was considered divine after he died, says Ariel, per CNN. The coin's flipside shows Trajan's name next to symbols of Roman legions, another expert tells the Jewish Press.

Only one other Trajan-minted coin of Augustus is known to exist, at the British Museum. So what does this one tell us? It may have been part of a soldier's pay to help quell the Bar Kochva revolt of Jews against the Roman Empire near Galilee, says Ariel. But the payment was hard to spend, because one gold coin equaled a month's salary (of 75 silver coins) and couldn't easily be used in town markets. As for Rimon, she admits it was "not easy" to give up the find. "It's not every day one discovers such an amazing object," she says. The Israel Antiquities Authority plans to give her a certificate of appreciation and hopes the coin will soon be shown publicly, the Jerusalem Post reports. But the IAA won't name the archaeological site near Rimon's discovery for fear of looters, notes Haaretz. (Another find from the Roman Empire: a ship full of salty fish sauce.)

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