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Hiker Accidentally Unearths Extremely Rare Gold Coin In Israel

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 14/03/2016 Jesselyn Cook
ISRAEL © Israel Antiquities Authority ISRAEL

Laurie Rimon did a double-take when she noticed a glint of gold sparkling in the rocks while on a hiking trip in northern Israel's mountainous Galilee region earlier this month. The veteran hiker stooped down to unearth what turned out to be an extremely rare coin -- the second of its kind in the world. 

"I saw something shiny, which I assumed was a coin of sorts. It was so bright and clear at first I thought it was maybe a toy or something," Rimon, who was hiking with a large group when she found the coin on March 2, told The WorldPost.

Her accidental discovery was "a world-class find," Dr. Danny Syon, a senior numismatist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a YouTube video his organization posted on Sunday. The ancient coin was minted in the year A.D. 107 by Roman Emperor Trajan as part of series dedicated to former emperors, Dr. Syon explained. 

On one side, the coin depicts Augustus, the Roman emperor who ruled from 27 B.C. until his death in A.D. 14. The other side features symbols of the Roman legions. London’s British Museum currently owns the only other coin like it. 

Rimon was blown away when she first learned of the coin's historical significance and value.

"When I showed it to our guide, she at first thought I was pulling her leg. Then she was in total shock," recalled Rimon, who promptly handed the artifact over to the IAA later that day.

"I admit I had a hard time turning it over," she said. "[I] would have loved to sleep on it at least one night, though I knew I would give it to them."

Rimon, who was born in Connecticut but now lives in Israel, will receive a certificate of appreciation from the IAA for her act of good citizenship. 

This rare finding could mean the Roman army was active in the area some 2,000 years ago, according to Dr. Donald Ariel, the head curator of the coin department at the IAA.

"Whilst the bronze and silver coins of Emperor Trajan are common in the country, his gold coins are extremely rare," he told Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Now we know that somebody, a soldier, or perhaps someone who stole from a soldier, or robbed from a soldier's body and found this coin, that he unfortunately subsequently lost it and couldn't find it, and so the coin lasted in the ground for another 2,000 years until the hiker picked it up," Dr. Ariel said in a video that was shared with the WorldPost.

"It's extremely exciting to find something like this," he said. "There are no other coins of Trajan in gold in the north."

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