Extremely Rare Crusader Coin Found in Jaffa

A coin that was minted for only a seven-year period in the 13th century has been identified, after it was recently found in excavations in Jaffa.<BR><br/>

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, | updated: 12:07

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced that the dig took place under the Jaffa Flea Market, in preparation for construction work in today's Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The coin was found well over a year ago, but was only recently identified by IAA specialists.

The find, a rare Frankish silver half drachma, is the first specimen to come from a controlled excavation. It was minted only during a very brief period in Frankish Acre, between 1251 and 1257, and was discovered in a domestic structure dating to the 13th century with ceramics dating to the same period.

The coin imitates the half dirhem struck in Damascus by the Ayyubids during the first half of the 13th century. In 1250, the papal legate, the bishop Eudes de Chateauroux, learned that the Franks were minting imitation coins with Muslim themes, and ordered an end to the practice, requesting the pope in Rome to intervene personally. Pope Innocent IV threatened to impose a ban and excommunicate all those striking such gold and silver coins mentioning the name of Muhammad and his birthdate. To circumvent the papal prohibition, minters in Crusader Acre added Christian legends and symbols to their coins – as were found on the recent find.

Other finds at the site that today houses a modern flea market include a large Crusader-era town, a Crusader-era skeleton, and a Byzantine-period furnace used for forging metals.