TWO rare gold coins from the reign of Emperor Valens have been unearthed in Egypt. Nevine El-Aref reports on the find. Archaeologists from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) carrying out a routine archaeological survey at Sail Al-Tofaha area, west of Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, have chanced upon two gold Byzantine coins bearing the head of Emperor Valens (364-378 AD). A number of grotto caves and fragments of clay and glass have already been found in the area.
Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, described this discovery as unique because it is the first time that objects linked to that emperor have been found in Egypt. "Coins of Valens were previously found in Lebanon and Syria," Hawass said, adding that remnants of walls along with fragments of clay, glass and porcelain dating to the same era were also unearthed.
On the obverse side is an image of Emperor Valens wearing his official attire and an ornate crown decorated with two rows of pearls surrounding a gold cross. The reverse shows the emperor in military attire, holding in his left hand a staff with a cross and in his right a ball surmounted by a winged angel.
Tareq El-Naggar, head of Coptic and Islamic monuments in Sinai, said both coins were minted in Antioch (now Antakya in southern Turkey). He said further excavations were expected to uncover other objects that could help explain more about the history of Sinai, especially during the Byzantine era.
The original article is accompanied by this photo:
... this is one of Valens' 'restitutor rei publicae' issues ... to be pedantic, he's carrying a labarum and a victory/nike ...