JERUSALEM: On Tuesday, Israeli archaeologists exhibited a rare and “remarkably well-preserved” Roman-era coin featuring the moon goddess Luna, the first of its kind to be discovered in Israeli waters.
During investigations off Haifa in northern Israel, archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed a coin struck in Alexandria in modern-day Egypt and depicting the zodiac sign Cancer below Luna and the Roman emperor of the time, Antoninus Pius.
It is inscribed “year eight,” referring to the eighth year of Antoninus Pius’s reign, which lasted from 138 to 161 and was known as the Pax Romana, a period of relative peace throughout the Roman Empire.
The coin is part of a series of 13 — specimens of which have been unearthed elsewhere in the world — portraying the 12 zodiac signs and the zodiac wheel in its entirety, according to the IAA.
“This is the first time a coin of this type has been unearthed off the coast of Israel,” said Jacob Sharvit, head of the IAA’s marine archaeology unit.
“These artifacts, which were lost at sea and vanished from view for hundreds of thousands of years, have been astonishingly well preserved; some are incredibly rare, and their finding fills in missing pieces of the country’s history puzzle,” he continued.
Sharvit stated that the Luna coin was discovered with a “small cache” of other coins and that the circumstances of the discovery indicated a nearby shipwreck.