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Largest trove of gold coins in Israel unearthed from ancient harbor

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 (Israel Antiquities Authority)

A group of divers in Israel has stumbled upon the largest hoard of gold coins ever discovered in the country. The divers reported the find to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and nearly 2,000 coins dating back to the Fatimid period, or the eleventh century, were salvaged by the authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit. The find was unearthed from the seabed of the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the release. “There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected.”

Sharvit suggested that the treasure trove of coins might have been intended to pay the members of the Fatimid military garrison stationed at Caesarea, Israel. There are also other theories as the origins of the coins. Sharvit said that the coins could have belonged to a sunken merchant ship.

“The coins are in excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention,” said Robert Cole, an expert numismaticist – someone who studies currency – with the antiquities authority.

The five divers have been called “model citizens” by the antiquities organization. Had the divers removed the objects from their location or tried to sell them, they could have faced a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The oldest of the coins is a quarter dinar that was minted in Palermo, Sicily during the second half of the ninth century. The majority of the coins can be traced back to the Faimid caliphs, Al-Ḥākim and his son Al-Ẓāhir who were alive in during the eleventh century. These coins were minted in Egypt and North Africa.

“There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage,” stated the Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority in the release. “After 2,000 years it is still capable of captivating its many visitors … when other parts of its mysterious past are revealed in the ground and in the sea.”

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California couple in $10M gold find may owe gov’t about half

California couple in $10M gold find may owe gov’t about half, report says

Published February 27, 2014

FoxNews.com
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    Feb. 25: David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service, poses with some of 1,427 Gold-Rush era U.S. gold coins, at his office in Santa Ana, Calif. (AP)

One couple’s gold find could mean a jackpot for the IRS.

The Northern California couple that found $10 million worth of rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree on their property will likely owe about half the find’s value whether they sell the gold or not.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the find is a taxable event under a 1969 federal court ruling that held a “treasure trove” is taxable the year it was discovered.

“If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession,” the report said, citing the IRS tax guide.

The report says after all is said and done, about 47 percent will go to state and federal tax, or the top tax rate.

An accountant told the paper that the couple can try to fight the tax and claim it was there when they bought the property.

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins that were found, dating from 1847 to 1894, were in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them. Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.

“I don’t like to say once-in-a-lifetime for anything, but you don’t get an opportunity to handle this kind of material, a treasure like this, ever,” said veteran numismatist Don Kagin, who is representing the finders. “It’s like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Kagin, whose family has been in the rare-coin business for 81 years, would say little about the couple other than that they are husband and wife, are middle-aged and have lived for several years on the rural property where the coins were found. They have no idea who put them there, he said.

The pair are choosing to remain anonymous, Kagin said, in part to avoid a renewed gold rush to their property by modern-day prospectors armed with metal detectors.

They also don’t want to be treated any differently, said David McCarthy, chief numismatist for Kagin Inc. of Tiburon.

They plan to put most of the coins up for sale through Amazon while holding onto a few keepsakes. They’ll use the money to pay off bills and quietly donate to local charities, Kagin said.

Before they sell them, they are loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta.

What makes their find particularly valuable, McCarthy said, is that almost all of the coins are in near-perfect condition. That means that whoever put them into the ground likely socked them away as soon as they were put into circulation.

Because paper money was illegal in California until the 1870s, he added, it’s extremely rare to find any coins from before that of such high quality.

“It wasn’t really until the 1880s that you start seeing coins struck in California that were kept in real high grades of preservation,” he said.

The coins, in $5, $10 and $20 denominations, were stored more or less in chronological order, McCarthy said, with the 1840s and 1850s pieces going into one canister until it was filed, then new coins going into the next one and the next one after that. The dates and the method indicated that whoever put them there was using the ground as their personal bank and that they weren’t swooped up all at once in a robbery.

Although most of the coins were minted in San Francisco, one $5 gold piece came from as far away as Georgia.

Kagin and McCarthy would say little about the couple’s property or its ownership history, other than it’s in a sprawling hilly area of Gold Country and the coins were found along a path the couple had walked for years. On the day they found them last spring, the woman had bent over to examine an old rusty can that erosion had caused to pop slightly out of the ground.

“Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can,” he said she told him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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South American ancient treasure found

Untouched treasure, remains from ancient South American empire discovered

Published June 27, 2013

FoxNews.com
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    Images of winged beings adorn a pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave. Archaeologists found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens, in the imperial tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey. (Daniel Giannoni / National Geographic News)

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    Protected from looters by 30 tons of stone, those interred in the mausoleum lay exactly where Wari attendants left them some 1,200 years ago. Archaeologist Krzysztof Makowski Hanula, the projectâs scientific adviser, describes the mausoleum as a pantheon where all the Wari nobles of the region were buried. (Milosz Giersz / National Geographic News)

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    With eyes wide open, a painted Wari lord stares out from the side of a 1,200-year-old ceramic flask found in a newly discovered tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru. The Wari forged South America’s earliest empire between A.D. 700 and 1000. (Daniel Giannoni / National Geographic News)

Archaeologists uncovered a 1,200-year-old “temple of the dead” burial chamber filled with precious gold and silver artifacts and the remains of 63 individuals in Peru.

The discovery is the first unlooted tomb of the ancient South American Wari civilization from 700 to 1,000 A.D.

“We are talking about the first unearthed royal imperial tomb,” University of Warsaw archeologist Milosz Giersz told National Geographic.

Gold and silver jewelry, bronze axes and gold tools occupied the impressive tomb which consisted of an ancient ceremonial room with a stone throne and a mysterious chamber sealed with 30 tons of stone fill.

“We are talking about the first unearthed royal imperial tomb.”

– University of Warsaw archeologist Milosz Giersz 

Intrigued, Giersz and his team continued to dig and found a large carved wooden mace.

“It was a tomb marker,” Giersz said. “And we knew then that we had the main mausoleum.”

As the archaeologists searched deeper, they found 60 human bodies buried in a seated position which were possibly victims of human sacrifice.

Nearby three bodies of Wari queens were also found along with inlaid gold and silver-ear ornaments, silver bowls, a rare alabaster drinking cup, cocoa leaf containers and brightly painted ceramics.

Gierzs and his team were stunned at their discovery, telling National Geographic they had never seen anything like it.

The Wari’s vast empire was built in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., and spanned across most of Peru. Huari, their Andean capital was once one of the world’s greatest cities, populated with 40,000 people compared to Paris’ mere 25,000 at the time.

Wari artifacts have long been subject to looters who seek out their rich imperial palaces and shrines. Gierzs and his project co-director Roberto Pimentel Nita managed to keep their dig a secret for many months in order to protect the previously untouched burial chamber.

The temple of the dead project scientific advisor Krzysztof Makowski Hanula told Nationahl Geographic the temple of the dead “is like a pantheon, like a mausoleum of all the Wari nobility in the region.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/06/27/untouched-treasure-remains-from-ancient-south-american-empire-discovered/?intcmp=features#ixzz2XTJMZgrl

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Teenager Finds Viking Coins

Danish teenager makes rare Viking-era find with metal detector

Published May 16, 2013

Associated Press

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    Coins from Bohemia, Germany, Denmark and England discovered during an archaeological dig last year, some of 365 items from the Viking era. Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark. (AP Photo/Polfoto/Stokke Brothers)

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    A pendant necklace in silver of Thor’s Hammer discovered during an archaeological dig last year, one of 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins. (AP Photo/Polfoto/Stokke Brothers)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark –  Danish museum officials say that an archaeological dig last year has revealed 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins.
Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark.

Sixteen-year-old Michael Stokbro Larsen found the coins and other items with a metal detector in a field in northern Denmark.

Stokbro Larsen, who often explores with his detector, said he is often laughed at because friends find him “a bit nerdy.”

Moesgaard said Thursday that it was the first time since 1939 that so many Viking-era coins have been found, calling them “another important piece in the puzzle” of history.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/05/16/teenager-rare-viking-era-find-metal-detector/#ixzz2Tlao6A2i

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2,000-year-old treasure found in Black Sea fortress

2,000-year-old treasure found in Black Sea fortress

By Owen Jarus

Published January 10, 2013

LiveScience

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    Researchers working at the site of Artezian in the Crimea (Ukraine) have discovered two hoards of buried treasure (one hoard shown here) dating to A.D. 45, a time when the people of the citadel were under siege by the Roman army. Here, two silver anklets, beads, numerous coins and a white, glass flask with a two-headed face, one side serious and the other happy. (Russian-Ukrainian Archaeological Artezian Expedition)

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    The citadel was torched by the Roman army in A.D. 45, with many of its inhabitants likely killed. Some time afterward Artezian was rebuilt with stronger fortifications although it, along with the rest of the Bosporan Kingdom, was under the sway of Rome. (Russian-Ukrainian Archaeological Artezian Expedition)

Residents of a town under siege by the Roman army about 2,000 years ago buried two hoards of treasure in the town’s citadel — treasure recently excavated by archaeologists.

More than 200 coins, mainly bronze, were found along with “various items of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels” inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement in the Crimea (in Ukraine), the researchers wrote in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.

“The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans. They had buried their hoards inside the citadel,” Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained. [See Photos of the Buried Treasure]

‘They had buried their hoards inside the citadel.’

– Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University 

Artezian, which covered an area of at least 3.2 acres and also had a necropolis (a cemetery), was part of the Bosporus Kingdom. At the time, the kingdom’s fate was torn between two brothers —Mithridates VIII, who sought independence from Rome, and his younger brother, Cotys I, who was in favor of keeping the kingdom a client state of the growing empire. Rome sent an army to support Cotys, establishing him in the Bosporan capital and torching settlements controlled by Mithridates, including Artezian.

People huddled in the fortress for protection as the Romans attacked, but Vinokurov said they knew they were doomed. “We can say that these hoards were funeral sacrifices. It was obvious for the people that they were going to die shortly,” he wrote in an email to LiveScience. The siege and fall of the fortress occurred in AD 45.

Curiously, each hoard included exactly 55 coins minted by Mithridates VIII. “This is possibly just a simple coincidence, or perhaps these were equal sums received by the owners of these caskets from the supporters of Mithridates,” the team wrote in its paper.

A Greek lifestyle

Vinokurov’s team, including a number of volunteers, has been exploring Artezian since 1989 and has found that the people of the settlement followed a culture that was distinctly Greek. The population’s ethnicity was mixed, Vinokurov wrote, “but their culture was pure Greek. They spoke Greek language, had Greek school; the architecture and fortification were Greek as well. They were Hellenes by culture but not that pure by blood.”

Greeks are known to have created colonies on the Black Sea centuries earlier, intermarrying with the Crimeans. The customs and art forms they introduced appear to have persisted through the ages despite being practiced nearly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Greece itself.

This Greek influence can be seen in the treasures the people of Artezian buried. Among them is a silver brooch engraved with an image of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and gold rings with gems engraved with images of Nemesis and Tyche, both Greek deities.

When archaeologists excavated other portions of the torched site they found more evidence of a Greek lifestyle.

“In the burnt level of the early citadel, many fragmentary small terra cotta figures were found depicting Demeter, Cora, Cybele, Aphrodite with a dolphin, Psyche and Eros, a maiden with gifts, Hermes, Attis, foot soldiers and warriors on horseback, semi-naked youths,” the researchers wrote in their paper, adding fragments of a miniature oinochoai (a form of Greek pottery) and small jugs for libations also were found.

All this was torched by the Romans and later rebuilt by Cotys I, who had been successfully enthroned by Rome. However the treasures of the earlier inhabitants remained undiscovered beneath the surface, a testament to a desperate stand against the growing power of Rome.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/10/2000-year-old-treasure-discovered-in-black-sea-fortress/?intcmp=features#ixzz2Iq68lRoH

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