Arthur Shippee, Howard Berlin and Paul Horner passed along an article about another recent coin find. Thank you!
A rare, half-shekel coin from the Great Revolt from 66 CE to 70 CE during the Second Temple period has been discovered in Jerusalem's Ophel excavations south of the Temple Mount.
The Ophel – or citadel – is the still-extant Herodian, cased-in Temple Mount bordered to the south by a saddle, followed by the ridge known as the southeastern hill that stretches down to the King's Garden and the lower Siloam Pool. Two kings of Judah, Yotam and Manasseh, are described in the Book of 2 Chronicles to have massively strengthened the Ophel fortifications and was either very close to or identical with the
stronghold of Zion conquered and reused by King David.
In the destruction layer, dozens of Jewish coins were found from the period of the Great Revolt, most of them made of bronze. They also included a particularly rare and unusual find – a silver coin in a half-shekel denomination originating from 69/70 CE.
The rare silver coin was cleaned at the conservation lab of the Institute of Archaeology and identified by Dr. Yoav Farhi, the team's numismatic expert and curator of the Kadman Numismatic Pavilion at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. Silver coins from the Great Revolt were the first and the last in ancient times to bear the title
shekel, the archaeologist said.
The next time this name was used was in 1980, on Israeli shekel coins produced by the Bank of Israel.
This is the third coin of this type found in excavations in Jerusalem, and one of the few ever found in archeological excavations, said the researchers.
During the Great Revolt against Rome, the Jews in Jerusalem minted bronze and silver coins. Most of the silver coins featured a goblet on one side, with ancient Hebrew script above it noting the year of the Revolt. Depending on its denomination, the coins also included an inscription around the border noting either,
Quarter-Shekel. The other side of these coins showcased a branch with three pomegranates, surrounded by an inscription in ancient Hebrew script,
According to the researchers, half-shekel coins with an average weight of seven grams were also used to pay the
half-shekel tax to the Temple, contributed annually by every Jewish adult male to help cover the costs of worship.
Until the revolt, it was customary to pay the half-shekel tax using good-quality silver coins minted in Tyre in Lebanon, known as Tyrean shekels or Tyrean half-shekels, said Farhi. These coins held the image of Herakles-Melqart, the principal deity of Tyre, and on the reverse, they featured an eagle surrounded by a Greek inscription,
Tyre the holy and City of refuge. The silver coins produced by the rebels were intended to also serve as a replacement for the Tyrean coins, by using more appropriate inscriptions and replacing images forbidden by the Second Commandment with symbols.
To read the complete article, see:
Silver coins found near Temple Mount prove Jewish history of Israel
Wayne Homren, Editor
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