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Monday, August 16, 2010

Coin found in Israel

A Virginia University student found a gold coin buried in Bethsaida, Israel on July 3rd.

And she's not even an archaeology major.

Alexis Whitley was on the trip to Israel to sate her interest in religious studies, which she described as hobby-like, and to grab some credit hours. At 9 a.m. that day, she and a friend were sent by their teacher, Dr. Aaron Gale, to help with efforts on another side of the excavation site.

As Whitley and her friend David Levine began to clear away dirt and rocks, complaining to themselves, she found the coin in the ground.

"I was loosening up dirt to be moved on the side of the wall with my pick when I noticed a small circular object glide down a mound of dirt," she said. "I reached down and picked up the brown and dirty object and looked to David and said, 'Dude, did I just find a coin?' and threw it at him."

Arav described the coin as a discovery of biblical dimensions. On one side is the portrait of Antonius Pius, Roman emperor from 138-161 CE.

According to Arav, the coin was issued in celebration to Pius' designation of consul for a second time, which history cites took place in the summer of 138.

In January of 139, Pius was consul and emperor, though at the time 'emperor' was more of an honorary title. The other side of the coin should display an announcement about his ascension to consul, but instead shows a portrait of the Goddess Pietas.

Arav believes that this coin is a misprint, and a very rare one.


The gold coin was minted in 138 CE, after Emperor Pius became ruler of Rome. 
It weighs seven grams and is 97 percent gold. (Photos by Hanan Shafir)


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