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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:1, Spring 2023

Good as Gold

While conducting a salvage excavation at the Banias Nature Reserve, the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a coin hoard dating to the final years of Byzantine control in the southern Levant. The hoard consists of 44 gold coins minted under the Byzantine emperors Phocas (r. 602–610 CE) and Heraclius (r. 610–641 CE). Although an incredible discovery on their own, the coins also help illuminate the transition from Christian to Islamic rule at Banias (biblical Caesarea Philippi).

Concealed beneath the base of a stone wall, the coin hoard was likely hidden for safekeeping before its owner fled the city in the face of the advancing Arab forces who conquered the region in 635 CE. The sheer quantity and quality of the gold, weighing about 6 ounces, also sheds light on the economy of the city in the final years of Byzantine control.

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