Israeli researchers discover 3,000-year-old fake silver pieces

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JERUSALEM, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers have discovered counterfeit silver pieces from 3,000 years ago, University of Haifa (UH), located in northern Israel, said on Sunday.

At that times no coins had yet been minted, and trade was done by means of silver pieces in various forms.

In their new study, researchers at UH and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found evidence of a severe shortage of silver at that period in the land of Israel, leading to the mixing of copper in high concentration, up to 80 percent, with only small amounts of silver.

According to the researchers, the counterfeit pieces were also mixed with other substances, such as arsenic, to get the silver color.

"The amounts of arsenic were very similar in many pieces, in what appeared to be a very organized operation, indicating that it was a deliberate counterfeit," the researchers said.

The team examined silver pieces found in eight treasures from the period of the collapse of the Hittite and Mycenaean empires, and the decline of ancient Egypt, causing instability and scarcity, including a shortage of silver.

"However, silver pieces were an essential part of the trade, so mixing silver with copper became a common and necessary operation," the researchers explained.

For comparison, such pieces found in the area, from earlier periods dating back to 1,900 BC, were made of almost 100 percent silver. Enditem

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