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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 6, February 10, 2008, Article 24

DEAD SEA SCROLL SCHOLARS ARGUE MEANING OF "BLACK" COINS

Arthur Shippee forwarded this paper from the Dead Sea
Discoveries (Volume 14, Number 1, 2007) by David Goldenberg
titled "Babatha, Rabbi Levi and Theodosius: Black Coins in
Late Antiquity".  The paper discusses the controversial
interpretations of the scrolls' mention of "black" coins.

"In six Greek papyri recovered ... on the western shore of
the Dead Sea the word “blacks” appears as an otherwise
unknown term of coinage. Various monetary sums are expressed
as so many “blacks,” e.g., “one black and thirty lepta” or
“710 blacks of silver.”  ... Bowersock conjectured that the
small amount of silver in these coins would have allowed for
a process of oxidation to have turned the coins black.  ...
Meshorer took issue with Bowersock’s explanation, arguing
that the papyrus documents indicate that the “blacks” were
not of low value, and anyway low quality silver would not
turn. His conclusion is precisely opposite to Bowersock:
the “blacks” are Roman denarii of high quality silver. "

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  Wayne Homren, Editor

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