Jerusalem – Ninth grade students on a hike in February in the fields alongside the Zippori stream in the Galilee chanced upon a 1,600-year-old rare coin minted by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II.
The gold coin was minted in Constantinople around 420–423 CE. Similar coins are known from the Eastern Byzantine empire, but this is the first its type has been discovered in Israel.
One side depicts the image of the emperor and the other shows the image of the Goddess Victory holding the Staff of the Cross.Advertisement:
Theodosius II was one of the most influential emperors of the Byzantine Empire, compiling an Imperial Code of Laws known as the “Codex Theodosius.”
His edicts led to the abolishment of the post of the Nasi, the Head of the Sanhedrin, and of the Sanhedrin Council. He decreed that the Jews’ financial contributions to the Sanhedrin be transferred to the Imperial Treasury, and ultimately led to the large-scale emigration of Jews to the Diaspora.
The four students, Ido Kadosh, Ofir Sigal, Dotan Miller and Harel Grin, understood that their find was significant, and reported it to their geography and history teacher Zohar Porshyan, who contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
Nir Distelfeld, the IAA anti-theft Inspector, collected the coin and was shown the spot at which the coin was found.
Distelfeld awarded the boys with a Certificate of Good Citizenship for transferring the coin to the State Treasuries, saying “it is uncommon to find single gold coins as they were very valuable, and people took care not to lose them. I commend the pupils and their teacher for their good citizenship.”