Hiker in Israel discovers rare gold aureus of Trajan

Only other example of rare type is part of British Museum collection
By , Coin World
Published : 03/15/16
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Most hikers hope to find relaxation and exercise when tromping through the wild, but an outdoor enthusiast in Israel found something even rarer — only the second known gold coin of its type.

The gold aureus issued by Roman Emperor Trajan is one of two examples known, with a “twin” in the British Museum. The gold aureus comes from a series of “restoration” coins honoring past rulers and deeds. The rare aureus depicts Emperor Augustus (Gaius Octavius), the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor.

Laurie Rimon was part of a hiking group visiting the eastern Galilee countryside when the discovery was made at an archaeological site, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which announced the find on March 14. 

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“Suddenly Laurie discerned a shiny object in the grass,” the IAA said in a statement. “When she picked it up she realized it was an ancient gold coin. The group’s guide, Irit Zuk-Kovacsi contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority with the help of archaeologist and veteran tour guide Dr Motti Aviam, and within two hours an IAA representative joined the group of hikers in the field.”

The IAA credited Rimon for disclosing the discovery despite its potential value, both economic and educational. 

“It was not easy parting with the coin,” she said, according to the IAA. “After all, it is not every day one discovers such an amazing object, but I hope I will see it displayed in a museum in the near future.”

She will receive a certificate of appreciation for her good citizenship, the IAA said.

What makes the coin stand out are the circumstance surrounding its issue.

In 107 A.D., Trajan withdrew older coins and melted them down, issuing the so-called “restoration” coins as a way to preserve the types that were melted and to link his reign to earlier rulers, according to Harold Mattingly, in Roman Imperial Coinage

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