In July of this year, archaeologists in Israel uncovered a hidden cache of gold left behind from the Crusades in a location that was formerly a fortress. While the find itself was fascinating for the level of wealth it contained and its historical merit, researchers are now coming forward to say that they have gained new insight into these coins tied with how they were used for economic transactions. The story of the trove of gold coins expands. According to a recent story by reporter Gwen Ackerman of Bloomberg News, most of the relics uncovered are dinars which are from an era known as the Fatimid Period that came well before the Crusaders took control of Apollonia castle, also known as Arsur.
Located between the ports of Caesarea and Jaffa, Apollonia was an important trading center from 1241 A.D. until it was destroyed in 1265 A.D. Large amounts of gold would have flowed through the castle which traded in agricultural products as well as industrial goods. The gold coins excavated would likely have been hidden during a 40-day siege led by Sultan Baybars from Egypt who eventually overran it. These particular coins, archaeologists revealed, also came from Egypt. They were produced sometime between 900 AD and 1000 AD, long before the Crusaders would have held them in Apollonia.
The director of the excavation was Tel Aviv University's chairman of the Department of Archaeology & Ancient Near Eastern Cultures who told the press, "The scientific value is unprecedented." He went on to say that those holding the gold found were, "not afraid to use older coins to complete large transactions and run large-scale businesses."
The discovery linked up knowledge of the Crusaders' economic activities in Europe where they used completely different silver coins for transactions. What it proves is that the Crusaders were willing to adopt the local currency very rapidly once they arrived in the Middle Eastern region.
Perhaps the most fascinating insight came from medieval and Crusade expert Robert Kool, who told the press, "What we see here is that when it comes to economics there are no walls, no ideological or political differences."
This is significant for those investing in precious metals today because it proves that even nearly a thousand years ago, gold coins were being valued even beyond the borders of the nations that originally produced them. This shows that the history of storing and using such coins is indeed ancient and that they were used then in much the same way as gold coins are used today.
When it comes to determining the value of dinar produced in that time, historians turned to ancient Jewish texts from the Cairo Genizah collection which told of two gold dinars being enough to feed an extended family for about 30 days. In the trove that archaeologists uncovered, there were a total of 108 such coins present. This means that the trove was a lot more than just a meager stash hidden as an afterthought, it was serious wealth in ancient times that could have saved a lot of people from going hungry during hard times.
While we may not always think of how much food the gold coins we invest in today could purchase, there is always that bottom line, the real-world value that makes them such a smart investment choice.