Pocket Full of Ancient Coins

Jeremy Wiles

Jeremy Wiles

Director & Producer


I was standing on a dirt road inside a village in Turkey, just a few miles from the base of Mt. Ararat, when these boys came running up to me, hands extended, all yelling at the same time. It was hard for me to make out the cacophony until this one boy grabbed my hand and dumped these coal-black coins into my palms. They appeared very old and some of the coins had distinctive king-like figures on the surface. After a few minutes of examining the coins, I realized these coins appeared to be ancient. The boys told me they had found the coins in the mountains outside the village. This was once the Kingdom of Urartu, which dates back to 1300 B.C.

I knew those coins had at least some historical value, so I bought most of them and stuck them in my pocket. The next day I was due to leave Dogubeyazit and head back to Istanbul to catch my flight home. I was concerned about how I would get the coins out of the country. That night in Istanbul, we had a few shots we needed to capture on the street.

As I was walking down the street, I was stopped by a beggar. It was a very dark that night, I was exhausted and eager to get back home. I reached into my pocket and gave him a handful of coins. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I had given him… yeah, you guessed it – the ancient coins I bought in the village!

Hopefully, the beggar knew what to do with them and is now a wealthy man! Once I got past the brief moment of disappointment and utter stupidity with myself, I actually had a really good laugh.