Rare Roman coin with the sign of Cancer found off the coast of Israel


A rare Roman coin minted nearly two millennia ago in Egypt has been found off the Israeli coast, in what authorities say is the first discovery of its kind in the area.

The approximately 1,850-year-old bronze coin was discovered on the seabed off the Carmel coast in northern Israel during an underwater archaeological survey. It was minted in the name of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, who ruled between 138 and 161 AD, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The coin bears the date “Year Eight”, marking the eighth year of his reign, and depicts the Roman moon goddess Luna and the zodiac sign of Cancer on the reverse. Experts say it belonged to a series of 13 coins depicting the 12 zodiac signs and the complete zodiac wheel.

Such finds are “extremely rare,” said Jacob Sharvit, director of the maritime archeology unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, adding that they add to “the historical puzzle of the country’s history.”

Unlike his predecessors, Pius was not a military man, and he presided over one of the most peaceful periods of the Roman Empire, according to experts, without major rebellions or military interventions. He was instead known for his public works, completing many of the building projects started by his predecessor and adoptive father, Hadrian.

Israel’s coastline has yielded other ancient finds in recent times. In October, an amateur diver discovered a sword that likely belonged to a Crusader knight who sailed to the Holy Land nearly a millennium ago.

Israeli diver finds 900-year-old sword said to be Crusader’s weapon on Mediterranean seabed

Shlomi Katzin came across the 900-year-old weapon at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea while diving off the Carmel coast. He handed it over to the authorities and was awarded a certificate of appreciation. (Israeli law requires that all artifacts found be returned to the nation.)

Experts said at the time that the ancient sword was likely exposed after waves caused sand to shift. Other artifacts found near the weapon included metal anchors, stone anchors, and pottery fragments.

“Along the shores of the Mediterranean … there are many archaeological sites and finds which tell of connections that existed here in ancient times between the ports of the Mediterranean and the countries along it,” said Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority. of the latest find.

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