A boxful of coins turned up near Jerusalem one recent day, but no one’s spending them.
The coins are 2,000 years old.
Israeli archeologists found the cache of 114 bronze coins in a ceramic box in the corner of a house dating back to the Late Second Temple period during excavations in the area of Abu Ghosh, an Arab village six miles west of the capital along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway.
On one side of each coin is a chalice and the Hebrew inscription “To the Redemption of Zion.” On the other side: images of a Sukkot lulav and etrog, and the inscription “Year Four,” dating the items to the fourth year of the Great Revolt against the occupying Roman army, around 70 B.C.E.
“The hoard, which appears to have been buried several months prior to the fall of Jerusalem, provides us with a glimpse into the lives of Jews living on the outskirts of Jerusalem at the end of the rebellion,” Israel Antiquities Authority Excavations Director Pablo Betzer, above, said in a press release. “Evidently someone here feared the end was approaching and hid his property, perhaps in the hope of collecting it later when calm was restored to the region.”
The coins, still encrusted in 2,000-year-old dirt and greenish oxidation, were found on the site of a previously unknown settlement, along with ancient pottery fragments.
“One of the significant points of the find is that all the coins were dated to the same year and each have the same worth,” likely a quarter- or eighth-shekel.
They are the largest collection of such Jewish rebel coins ever discovered in Israel.
The Authority announced the discovery, which took place a half-year ago, last month on Tisha b’Av, the holiday that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Perhaps, said Betzer, the coins were intended to buy arms or provisions for the Jewish fighters against the Roman legions.