Three hikers have discovered a cache of rare coins and silver and bronze objects 2,300 years old in a cave in one of the important discoveries in northern Israel in recent years, according to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).This would be not long after, and perhaps even in the same general region as when the Samaria Papyri were left in a large cave — but in that case because their owners were also in the cave and were suffocated when Alexander's army lit a fire in front of the cave mouth.
The youngest member of the group, Hen, 21, says he forced his way into one of the narrow niches when he suddenly caught sight of a shining object. He discovered two ancient silver coins, which it later turned out had been minted during the reign of Alexander the Great who conquered the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (late fourth century BCE).
Several pieces of silver jewelry were found alongside the coins, among them rings, bracelets and earrings, which were apparently concealed in the cave, together inside a cloth pouch some 2,300 years ago.
“The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death,” IAA archaeologists said.
UPDATE (10 March): You can read the IAA press release here (HT Joseph Lauer).