The coins were detected when the man, a 40-year-old resident of the Gaza Strip, was stopped for a routine check at the Erez checkpoint.
The Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration seized the coins.
The coins are made of silver and are equivalent to the tetradrachm, an Ancient Greek silver coin. They were coined during the late days of Alexander the Great’s reign, or shortly after his death.
One was coined in Babylon—modern day Iraq—and the other in Amphipolis, an Athenian colony in modern day Greece. The two coins are highly prized and sought after and are of vast historical and cultural importance.
This isn’t the first attempt to smuggle coins into Israel from Gaza. In July 2017, a Palestinian man entering Israel was caught carrying four coins from the time of Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great, 356-323 BC, was the King of Macedonia and is considered one of the greatest leaders in history. He conquered the land of Israel and Egypt without encountering any major resistance. He established a city named after him in Egypt—Alexandria—and then returned to Syria and Mesopotamia, where he famously beat the Persian King Darius in the battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC.
During Alexander’s massive conquests in the east, he started seeing himself as a god rather than a king, and as a bridge between the east and the west.
He married Roxana, a Sogdian princess from Bactria, and tried to force his officers to marry local Persian noble women. Alexander’s officers felt uneasy about these demands, as they saw the peoples of the east as lesser, occupied peoples. Several of his officers were executed after they clashed with Alexander about the matter.
In 323 BC, at age 33, Alexander died of a fever, after conquering vast lands from Europe and all the way into India. His empire was split to three after he died and never returned to its former glory.