Archaeologists have not discovered an ‘Ancient Coin of the Canaanite Realm’

A recent news report has claimed that archaeologists have found an ‘Ancient Coin of the Canaanite Realm’.

It’s a small metal object, oval in shape, dated to approximately the 14th century BC. You can see a nice photo of it HERE. According to the news report, it…

…bears the image of a scarab, a venerated symbol in ancient Egypt that was often used for official seals.

But there are two major things wrong with all of this.

First, there was no such thing as ‘The Canaanite Realm’. There were a number Canaanite city states in the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BC), and each had its own king/mayor. All of them were under the colonial authority of Egypt at the time, as the Amarna Letters indicate. They are a series of tablets discovered at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt dating predominantly to the time of Pharaoh Akhenaton (the ‘heretic’ Pharaoh), and show correspondence between the kings of the many Canaanite city states and their Egyptian overlord during the 14th century BC. At no point was there a single king of Canaan in what we could call ‘The Canaanite Realm’. The headline, therefore, is historically misleading.

Second, there were no such things as coins in the Late Bronze Age. Coinage wasn’t invented until the sixth century BC in Asia Minor. The idea of coins (standardised value weights that could be minted with the imprimatur of the issuing monarch) only caught on during the Persian Achaemenid Era. After that, coinage became widespread, but not before. There certainly were no coins 800 years earlier in Canaan! As such, the item that archaeologists have found was not ‘minted’. It was simply ‘produced’. It is not a coin. It is either a small amulet, a decorative button, or some other kind of non-standardised but pretty chunk of metal: a trinket. Notice the other things discovered along with it:

It was part of a cache, including pottery vessels, oil lamps, pieces of jewelry, shells, seals and amulets that depict Egyptian gods, which archeologists found during excavations.

This little find from Kibbutz Lahav looks quite dandy! But a coin it ain’t!

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4 thoughts on “Archaeologists have not discovered an ‘Ancient Coin of the Canaanite Realm’

  1. Well stated George. It ain’t a coin for sure. When I saw it on the picture, me too I thought “nice piece” but this must be an amulet of some kind for sure. Best wishes Peter

  2. Pingback: June 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival | William A. Ross

  3. Pingback: Livius Nieuwsbrief | Juli | Mainzer Beobachter

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