Cache of Ptolemaic coins unearthed in Egypt

Date:

Share post:

Finding a cache of 2200-year-old coins buried in the remains of an Egyptian house sparked honours student Liesel Gentelli’s interest in coins, inspiring her to pursue postgraduate studies in forensics.

Cache of Ptolemaic coins unearthed in Egypt
The remains of a bakers oven at Tell Tamai 
[Credit: Sean Winter]

Ms Gentelli is one of two UWA archaeologists invited to excavate Tell Timai, the remains of the Graeco-Roman town of Thmuis in Egypt.

A tell is a large mound formed by the remains of an abandoned town or city, and Thmuis was a port on a former Nile delta channel which has since silted up.

She says the coins she discovered during the dig were probably votive offerings placed under the building’s foundation to bring prosperity to its inhabitants.

The cache included 13 individual coins from the reigns of Ptolemy II, III and IV, making the building no older than 221 BCE.

The University of Hawaii invited Ms Gentelli and UWA archaeologist Sean Winter to participate in digs at the tell, which is threatened by encroaching developments.

Dr Winter was part of a small international team working at another part of the 91ha site which appears to have been a large open-sided shed.

He says they found an unusually large number of baker’s ovens for Egypt at that point in time, indicating the building may have been an industrial-scale bakery or perhaps a tavern.

“Nowhere in the published literature can we find an equivalent number of ovens in the same place,” he says.

They used the remains of ceramics, coins and charcoal to date the building to between 100 BCE and perhaps 10 CE.

Of particular interest is the former building’s rubbish pit, from which they identified mammal, bird, fish and mollusc remains.

Together with remains of amphorae—large stone urns used to transport fish sauce, wine, oil and the like—they built up a complex picture of Thmouis people’s dietary options and sources.

He says oysters, for example, swam up the Nile from the Mediterranean.

The researchers inferred this by comparing the oysters shellfish assemblage with others, including specimens from the former Red Sea port of Berenike.

“At that site all the shellfish were derived locally and comprised species that came from the Red Sea,” he says.

“In contrast all of the shellfish that we can identify in our assemblage comprise species native to the Mediterranean.”

He has written a paper, “Food Consumption During the First Century BCE at Thmouis” with co-authors Colleen Westmor and Courtney Bobik, which is due to be published next year.

Author: Geoff Vivian | Source: Science Network WA [November 13, 2014]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Petroglyph panels damaged in Agua Fria National Monument

Petroglyph panels at Agua Fria National Monument have been damaged by white paint and obscenities scrawled on nearby...

Remains of 400 year-old Irish fort discovered

Remains of a 410-year-old fort have been discovered on the banks of the River Foyle. The bastion fortification...

Israel seeks to save ancient sites from earthquake

With Israel situated in one of the world's earthquake-prone areas, officials are taking action to protect the Holy...

Voyager 1 encounters new region in deep space

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region at the far reaches of our solar system that...

Lizards, snakes ‘nearly wiped out’ with dinosaurs

The asteroid collision widely thought to have killed the dinosaurs also led to extreme devastation among snake and...

6,000 year old rock paintings saved

A rare cultural heritage of Gujarat has been saved, thanks to the alertness of tribals and the intervention...

Another Byzantine structure rescued in Istanbul

The traces of a large cistern have been found during the construction of a hotel on land owned...

Peru’s ruins highlight battle between tourism and conservation

It looks like a builder’s yard but what is now little more than a mound of dust and...