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Sharjah: Jar of rare silver coins from 3rd century BC unearthed

Staff Report/Sharjah
Filed on July 15, 2021 | Last updated on July 15, 2021 at 10.39 am
The coins depicted icons of that period: Hercules’¬ head and Zeus. - Supplied photo

About 409 coins were found in the jar, with each weighing 16-17 grammes.

Archaeologists in Sharjah have unearthed a 9kg jar filled with silver coins. Minted and used in the historic Mleiha region, the coins date back to the third century BC.

The Sharjah Archaeology Authority said the coins depicted icons of that period: Hercules’¬ head and Zeus. Additionally, the word ‘Alexander’ in engraved in the Greek script.


Sharjah: Jar of rare silver coins from 3rd century BC unearthed (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/assets/jpg/KT29411715.JPG)

As time progressed, the engraving was replaced with the word ‘Abel’ written in the Aramaic script.

Dr Sabah Aboud Jasim, director-general of Sharjah Archaeology Authority, said: “When this heavy pottery jar was discovered, it was suspected that it would contain rare artefacts. On carefully opening the pot at the Sharjah Archaeology Authority laboratory, we found it completely filled with numerous silver coins of the drachma quad category - tetradrachma.”


Sharjah: Jar of rare silver coins from 3rd century BC unearthed (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/assets/jpg/KT29410715.JPG)

Buried treasure

About 409 coins were found in the jar, with each weighing 16-17 grammes.

Among the collection were coin designs, which had been previously discovered throughout the Arabian Gulf region, while others were unique to Mleiha.

A Danish archaeological mission had discovered a similar coin hoard dating back to the same period in the Kingdom of Bahrain in 1970. This hoard consisted of 309 coins.


Sharjah: Jar of rare silver coins from 3rd century BC unearthed (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/assets/jpg/KT29412715.JPG)

History comes alive

In the pre-Islamic period, the city of Mleiha was considered one of the most important sites in the Arabian Peninsula. It was an oasis located in the centre of the Sharjah.

In the third century BC, it became a major commercial centre for convoys passing between the north and south of the Arabian Peninsula.

A tombstone discovered in Mleiha, which dates back to the late third century BC, confirmed the presence of the Oman Kingdom. Research has shown that Mleiha was likely to have been its capital at the time.

Mleiha was regarded as an essential prosperous society in the region. This economic power allowed it to extend its influence throughout the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian worlds, the Levant and Persia. The impact of Mleiha could even be felt as far as Afghanistan and the Sindh Valley (previously the Kushan Kingdom). The extensive collection of amphora jar handles imported from Rhodes is indicative of this far-reaching trade.





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