Whilst hiking in the eastern Galilee with a group of veteran hikers, Laurie Rimon, a member of Kibbutz Kefar-Blum, came across a shiny object in the grass. When she picked it up she realized it was an ancient gold coin.
According to experts at the Israel Antiquities Authority, the coin, minted in Rome in 107 CE, is rare on a global level. On the reverse side of the coin there are 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. It is thought that the coin may reflect the presence of the Roman army in the region some 2,000 years ago – possibly in the context of activity against Bar Kokhba supporters in the Galilee – but it is very difficult to determine that on the basis of a single coin.
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. The British Museum, London, possesses an ancient gold coin that until now was apparently the only one of its kind known in the world. This coin, from 107 CE, was part of the series of nostalgic coins that Emperor Trajan minted and dedicated to the Roman emperors that ruled before him.
It is thought that the coin, discovered by Laurie, is the “identical twin brother” of this rare coin – the second such coin of its kind now known to exist.
In the near future the Israel Antiquities Authority will award Laurie a certificate of appreciation for her good citizenship for handing over of the coin.