JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - Cave explorers in Israel have uncovered a small trove of coins and jewellery from the time of Alexander the Great that archaeologists believe was hidden by refugees during an ancient war.
The 2,300-year-old treasure was the first of its kind to be found from the period of the conqueror, said Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Just last month, scuba divers off Israel's coast came upon an even larger find - about 2,000 gold coins from the 11th century that archaeologists hope will shed light on Muslim rule during that time.
Hikers discovered the latest horde in a narrow crevice of a stalactite cave in the Galilee region. It included two silver coins minted during Alexander's reign and several pieces of silver jewellery, including rings, bracelets and earrings.
"The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander," the Antiquities Authority said in a statement. "Presumably the cache was hidden in the hope of better days."
Alexander the Great, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, led a military campaign throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. He died in Babylonia, the present day Iraq, in 323 B.C.