Byzantine gold coin with 'face of Jesus' unearthed by metal detectorist in Norway

A gold coin depicting Jesus Christ. .

Last week, Innlandet County Municipality announced the discovery of an ancient gold coin from the Byzantine Empire that dates back to somewhere between 977 and 1025 AD.

According to the press release, a metal detectorist discovered the very rare Byzantine coin on a beach in the Vestre Slidre municipality. The municipality is located in central Norway, about three hours north of Oslo.

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On one side of the coin, we see Christ holding the Bible.
Photo courtesy of Martine Kaspersen, Innlandet County Municipality

According to the municipal officials, the coin features an image of Christ holding the Bible on one side and on the other is an image of the emperor Basil II (left) and Constantine VIII (right), who ruled together.

The coin also features two inscriptions, one in Latin, which says: "Jesus Christ, King of those who reign," and one in Greek, which says: "Basil and Constantine, emperors of the Romans."

Despite its age, officials said that the coin is in exceptional shape.

"The coin appears largely unchanged from when it was lost, perhaps a thousand years ago," the press release said.

As to how a coin, minted in the Middle East, ended up 1,6000 miles away in the mountains of Norway, officials speculate that it could be part of the treasure the Viking Harald Hardråde bought back. According to the officials, Hardråde and his crew were part of the emperor's guard.

"The treasures he acquired during his time as part of the emperor's guard in Constantinople, he sent to Prince Yaroslav in Kyiv. The taxes were to contribute to a dowry so that Harald could marry one of Jaroslav's daughters, Elliptical," the press release said. "The sagas tell that Harald and his men were rich in every way when they finally returned home to Norway in 1046, with their ships laden with gold and other valuables."

The coin was discovered late in the season, so archeologists will have to wait until 2024 to explore the area.

This is the second major historical find in Norway. In September, it was announced that an amateur metal detectorist had unearthed what could be the nation's biggest ancient gold discovery in more than a century.

A cache of nearly 100 grams of gold objects, more than 1,500 years old, was discovered on the island of Rennesøy in southwestern Norway.

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