The Israel Antiquities Authority is presenting a new exhibition which includes ancient coins uncovered at the Temple Mount and a 2,000-year-old sarcophagus lid. The new display will open on November 11 at the Davidson Center and in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, just south of the Temple Mount. Many of the artifacts have not previously been shown to the public.
The exhibition integrates the most recent research done about ancient Jerusalem. It includes three sections: one features the sarcophagus [funeral receptacle] lid inscribed with the words "Ben HaCohen HaGadol" - "Son of the High Priest."
Another display presents Jerusalem as a metropolis during the late Second Temple Period, while a third exhibits artifacts from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple.
"It's a product of the newest research that has been done in the past few years," said Chava Katz, Chief Curator of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. "It's at the right location because it connects the finds to their actual location."
Most of the artifacts were uncovered along the southern edge and southwestern corner of the Temple Mount during the excavations of Professor Binyamin Mazar in 1970s and Professor Roni Reich in the 1990s.
According to a report released by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, the sarcophagus lid was found just north of Jerusalem. The lid is "engraved with an inscription in square script that is characteristic of the Second Temple period."
The inscription "Son of the High Priest" most likely refers to a High Priest who officiated at the Temple between 30 and 70 CE.
"This is the first time that we have been able to locate a manor house of the high priest of Judea during the first century, during the time of the Jewish rebellion," Har-Even told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "We found a huge settlement from the Second Temple Period, in which there are a lot of burial caves that were probably used by the family of the High Priest."
Many of the coins on display date back nearly 2,000 years and were burnt during the Great Revolt, just after the destruction of the Second Temple. The collection displays a unique range of coins minted in Jerusalem during that time, along with many coins from around the world that were brought to Jerusalem by visitors.
These coins, from as far away as Persia and France, testify to Jerusalem's importance as metropolis and cultural and religious center for Jews at the time. The differences between Jewish and pagan coins in the collection are striking, as, in accordance with religious law, no human images are carved on the Jewish coins.