In the midst of one of the most comprehensive conservation projects currently taking place in Israel, archeologists in Jerusalem’s Old City discovered a Tyre coin, believed to have been used to pay the Temple tax by pilgrims making their way to the Temple for Passover, Shavuot or Sukkot.The ancient coin was found inside a box of artifacts originally excavated in the 1980s, when the last conservation project took place at the site. The box was somehow lost and only discovered recently as part of a well-needed conservation project currently taking place at the Tower of David Museum.The box included the rare silver coin, called a “Tyre shekel,” which was used during the Second Temple Period and produced in the ancient city of Tyre, where Tyrian shekels were minted from 125 BCE until the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 66 CE. Tyrian shekels are often mentioned in historical accounts from the Second Temple Period, but very few have actually been found.The Tower of David complex, where the exciting finding was made, includes the ancient palace of Herod, where many theologians and historians believe that the trial of Jesus took place. The tallest tower in the complex is called the Phasael Tower, which was the first to be identified as the “Tower of David” in the 5th century CE.
It is that tower that is currently undergoing major conservation. A large crack running from top to bottom is threatening the tower’s entire structural integrity, which has led the conservation team leading the project to expedite its efforts to restore the 2,000-year-old damaged stones.“The Tower of David is one of the most important structures in Israel, both in terms of its history and location,” said Yotam Carmel, conservation manager at Ken HaTor, the company put in charge of the project. “The last conservation project at the Tower of David was carried out in the 1980s. Since then the citadel has been in desperate need of conservation.” Eilat Lieber, director and chief curator of the Tower of David Museum, noted the importance of the conservation project for future generations.“At this holiday time, we are grateful for this unique opportunity to physically preserve the walls and towers of this ancient site that stood during the time of the Second Temple thousands of years ago, helping to preserve and conserve the site so that it continues to be a beacon in Jerusalem for future generations to come,” Lieber said.The Tower of David Museum, located in the ancient citadel at the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City, will remain open for the general public throughout the year, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.The coin that was recently discovered will be displayed next year in a new and permanent exhibit at the museum.For more information: www.tod.org.il