Around 1200 BC, the eastern Mediterranean experienced the collapse of the leading civilizations of the Bronze Age, caused by a shortage of silver. Hundred years before the invention of coins, it led to the formation of the so-called dirty money. Ancient counterfeit money was discovered by archaeologist Tsilla Eshel from the University of Haifa. She studied the chemical composition of 25 Bronze Age silver treasures that were unearthed throughout Israel.
Eight of them date back to the collapse of the late Bronze Age. Then many powerful kingdoms of the region were subjected to violent influence, leading to death. At the same time, a significant part of the silver was replaced by cheap copper alloys, although the outer surface of the coins was similar to pure silver.
Almost all the hoards date from the period when the region, which at that time had the name Canaan, was under the rule of Ancient Egypt. Perhaps this monetary deception originated from the Egyptian rulers, who wanted to hide the fact that there was a lack of reserves of precious silver used as currency.
Canaan did not have its own silver ores, and therefore the metal was imported. The silver trade quickly came to an end when the nearby kingdoms began to collapse between 1200 and 1150 AD. The lack of silver prompted the creation of a forgery, and it continued after the Egyptians left Canaan.
One of the treasures was discovered in the north of Israel, it dates back to the 12th century BC. It features silver-faced ingots on a copper core. That metal was originally rated by weight. Gold was also used, but more often as an exchange of funds, but it was expensive and rare and therefore silver was used more often.
One of the treasures of the Haraan people is associated with the ancient city of Megiddo that became famous during the years of numerous battles, which in the Christian Bible received the meaning as Armageddon.
The treasure weighs about 157 grams, the ingots contain only 40% silver, it is alloyed with copper and other cheap materials. The state could be achieved by slowly cooling the ingot after it has been melted and poured.