Aaron Oppenheim passed along two articles about ancient coins recovered from a thief in Jerusalem. Thanks.
Police recovered dozens of ancient coins that were allegedly illegally excavated — among them a rare coin from the time of the last Hasmonean king of Judea over 2,000 years ago — during a search in East Jerusalem overnight, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
The currency was recovered from the suspect's home in the Silwan neighborhood and includes bronze coins ranging from the Roman period until the Muslim period. The IAA said in a statement that coins from the reign of Antigonus Mattathias II (40 BCE – 37 BCE) are the rarest finds among those minted from the Hasmonean period.
Police questioned a man in his 30s, suspected of robbing the artifacts — likely by searching for them with a metal detector around Jerusalem — illegal possession of artifacts, and attempting to sell the items.
IAA Director Eli Escusido said that finding the coins at their original site would have been more useful to their study.
The removal of the coin from its archaeological site harms the ability to understand our historical puzzle, he said.
Gabriela Bichovsky, a coin expert at the IAA, said a cornucopia is displayed on the coin, with a Hebrew inscription reading,
Mattia Kohen Gadol, a reference to the Hasmonean king as a member of the Jewish priestly class. The opposite side of the coin was minted with a Greek inscription surrounded by a wreath, she said.
Mattathias minted bronze coins in three denominations: large, medium, and small. The coin that was recovered is of the medium denomination and is rarer than the large, on which a pair of cornucopias appear instead of one, Bichovsky added.
To read the complete articles, see:
Looted rare coin from last Hasmonean king seized in raid on suspected thief
Ancient Israeli coins recovered from Jerusalem archaeology thief
Wayne Homren, Editor
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