The Crusaders last stand pot of gold, worth $500,000, was found buried in Israel and were minted by the Fatimid empire and belonged to the soldiers of the order of the Knights Hospitalier.
The coins – worth a fortune even in 1265 when they were thought to have been buried – were deliberately hidden inside a broken jug to prevent them being discovered.
The fortress was destroyed in April 1265 by forces of Mamluks who overwhelmed the Crusaders – and the treasure only survived due to the quick thinking of one of the defenders.
“It was in a small juglet, and it was partly broken,” Oren Tal of the University of Tel Aviv told Fox News. “The idea was to put something broken in the ground and fill it with sand, in order to hide the gold coins within. If by chance somebody were to find the juglet, he won’t excavate it, he won’t look inside it to find the gold coins. Once we started to sift it, the gold came out.”
The Roman fortress in Apollonia National Park has yielded a huge number of archaeological treasures – but scientists excavating layer from the 13th century were stunned to unearth a literal pot of gold. The clay container had more than 100 gold dinals from the time when the Crusaders occupied the fortress, originally built by the Romans.
The coins discovered in the fort date to the Fatimid empire in northern Africa, and are 200-300 years older than the ruined fortress they found in.
The coins were minted in Tripoli and Alexandria – and are extremely valuable.
“Fatimid coins are very difficult to study,” says Oren Tal, “The letters are sometimes very difficult to decipher.” The coins can sell for up to $5,000 apiece, according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. The excavations are offering a unique insight into Crusader fortifications in the Middle East.