An ancient jug, with four gold coins stashed inside, was a piggy bank more than a millennium ago.
The jug was found by archaeologists in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter last month while surveying a site set for construction.
The site, based in Western Wall Plaza – a historic public square in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspector Yevgenia Kapil found the juglet, made out of clay and is not much bigger than a coffee cup.
Weeks later, an IAA archaeologist, David Gellman, was shocked when a handful of coins came out with the dirt when he moved it in his hand.
The excavation director said: “This is the first time in my career as an archaeologist that I have discovered gold, and it is tremendously exciting”
The coins made it easy to determine the age of the treasure, reports LiveScience.
They all dated back to between 940 and 970, according to the IAA.
This era was one of major political change, when the Shiite Fatimid Dynasty conquered Egypt, Syria and Israel, all of which had previously been under the rule of the Sunni Abbasid dynasty.
Two were minted during the rule of the Sunni Caliph al-Muti’ between 956 and 961, the others were minted during the reign of the Shiite ruler al Mu’izz and his successor, al-‘Aziz, between the years 953 and 996.
They were perfectly preserved and didn’t even need to be cleaned to be identified, a coin expert said.
It’s the first time in 50 years that a gold cache from the Fatimid period has been found in the area.
The gold may have represented someone’s entire savings, or a fraction of a family’s wealth – depending on who stashed it away.
“Four dinars was a considerable sum of money for most of the population, who lived under difficult conditions at the time,” Kool said.
“It was equal to the monthly salary of a minor official, or four months’ salary for a common laborer.”