Mel Wacks submitted this announcement of the winner of the AINA's 2021 Shekel Prize.
David Jacobson, Associate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies Faculty, University of Oxford, has
won the Shekel Prize Medal, awarded by the American Israel Numismatic Association for
Agrippa II, the Last of the Herods as the best 2020 publication on Judaic/Israel numismatics.
Upon receiving the news, Jacobson indicated:
It is a great honour to be the recipient of this
prestigious award and I greatly appreciate the esteem of the members of the judging committee
of my endeavours.
Jacobson has described his attraction to the subject:
What drew me to studying the coinage of
the last Herodian monarch Agrippa II, the last Herodian king in the Land of Israel were its
distinctive characteristics. His coin issues are prolific, almost equalling the combined total of all
the previous Herodian kings and tetrarchs. Its other striking feature was the closeness of its
various coin designs to those of Roman coins.
I quickly realised that the coinage of Agrippa II had hitherto not received adequate treatment and
so decided to investigate it myself. In my first study of this coinage, I was able to show that the
coin denominations reflect a move to integrate Agrippa II’s currency system with the Roman one
(Israel Numismatic Journal 19 (2016), 63-75). Delving deeper, I found that I could use the era
used on his coins to pinpoint the year of his death to 94/95 CE. Hitherto, the end of Agrippa’s
reign had remained an unsettled question, in contention among scholars.
When I began to examine Agrippa II’s coins, it struck me that there was no proper biographical
study of that king, so I decided to write my own account, which has now been published under
the title Agrippa II: The Last of the Herods. This monograph reveals important new facts about
him, his relationship with his sister Berenice and the reasons for Agrippa's abandonment of
the Jews during and after the war against Rome (the First Revolt). These findings are in addition
to what I have managed to learn about Agrippa II and his times from his coins. I hope that those
interested in the Herodian kings and numismatics will wish to read my book and perhaps find answers to some of their questions.
Herod Agrippa II never portrayed himself on his coins, but he did appear as
a teenager on extremely rare issues of his father Herod Agrippa I struck
40/41 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi. Courtesy of Fontanille Coins.
The other entries for the 2020 Shekel Prize were
Catalog of Paper Payment Tokens in Israel
by Alexander Golberg,
Guide Book of Banknotes, Coins and Tokens of Israel published by
Medals of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame 1969-2019 by Mel Wacks. The
winning book and the other nominees are all available on amazon. The distinguished panel of
judges includes Dr. Haim Gitler, Israel Museum Curator of Numismatics; David Hendin,
American Numismatic Society Vice President; Simcha Kuritzky, President of AINA; Dr. Ira
Rezak, AINA Board Member; and the committee chair, Mel Wacks, President Emeritus of AINA.
Further information about past Shekel prize winners and the American Israel Numismatic
Association are available at
Wayne Homren, Editor
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