2,000-year-old coins from 'great revolt' discovered in time for Passover

"The discovery of dozens of coins in the center of ancient Jerusalem, bearing the inscription 'to freedom / to Galat Zion,' is of special importance during Passover."

March 26, 2018 13:59
2 minute read.
Coins discovered in old city cave March 26, 2018

Coins discovered in old city cave March 26, 2018. (photo credit: COURTESY OF DR. EILAT MAZAR AND OURIA TADMOR)


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Coins dating from the Roman-Jewish War (66-73CE) were discovered by archeologists in a cave near the south wall of the Temple Mount on Monday, according to the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.

During archaeological digs run by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, dozens of bronze coins as well as numerous fragments of pottery vessels, mainly jars and cooking pots, from the Great Revolt period were discovered in a large cave measuring 7 x 14 meters.

The discovery of the coins, which were dated from the period of the destruction of the second temple, was given particular significance as they were found just before the Jewish holiday of Passover, a celebration of Jewish freedom and self-determination.

According to Dr. Mazar, a significant difference can be discerned between the bronze coins minted in the first and final years of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire (70-66 CE). At first, when the rebels had hope and faith in their success, the inscription on the coins in ancient Hebrew script was: "The freedom of Zion." In contrast, during the fourth uprising and before the destruction, the rebels conveyed their despair by inscribing on the coins the inscription "LeGalat Tzion," or "To save Zion."

Dr. Mazar added, "The discovery of dozens of coins in the center of ancient Jerusalem, bearing the inscription 'to freedom / to save Zion,' is of special importance during this period, when the Jewish state is preparing to celebrate Passover and the Freedom of the Jewish people 2,000 years later. "
Discovery of Santa Claus ancient ring in Israel (Israle Antiquities Authority)

The coins are decorated with various Jewish symbols such as the four species (Lulav, Hadas, Etrog and Arava) associated with Sukkot, a palm tree that symbolized the tribe of Judah and a cup which was used in the Temple. The "Four Year" coin model, together with the inscription "To save Zion" is the current inscription on the NIS 10 coins of the State of Israel.

The coins were well preserved, Dr. Mazar said, because they were used only briefly and sheltered by the cave in which they were discovered. Another unusual phenomenon in regards to this discovery is that such a large cave, which was partly visible, remained isolated after the destruction of the Second Temple, and for thousands of years it was virtually untouched.

A similar number of "four year" coins were found in 1967 in the Robinson Arch building near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount by Prof. Benjamin Mazar, the grandfather of Dr. Eilat Mazar, who led the excavations on the Temple Mount from the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University.

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