Largest trove of Fatimid era gold coins found in Israel

A group of divers from a diving club found, by chance, a large trove of gold coins dating back to the Fatimid period of Jerusalem, on the seabed at Caesarea National Park Israel, in February 2015. They retrieved at least 2000 coins, the largest find ever. The image imprinted on most of coins is that of Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah.

In 969 AD, Jerusalem came under the control of the Fatimids. During the rule of Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim, from 996 to 1021 AD, many Christians and Jews in Jerusalem were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who did not convert were killed. In 1009 AD, Al-Hakim ordered the destruction of churches and synagogues throughout his empire, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

History remembers the first Crusade as a mission to rescue the Byzantines from rampaging Islamists throughout Asia Minor and the Levant. Yet, there is evidence that many Christian knights went on the first Crusade specifically for the sake of liberating Jerusalem from the yoke of the Fatimids. When Godfrey of Bouillon took Jerusalem in 1099 AD and became the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he refused to adopt the title of king. Instead, Godfrey declared himself “Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri”, meaning Protector of the Holy Sepulchre.

The ferocity with which the first crusaders prised Jerusalem from the Fatimids in 1099 AD is the reason why Saladin spared the church in 1187 AD.

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