Rare first century coin discovered at temple dig in Jerusalem

December 21st, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Jerusalem, Dec 21 (ANI): Excavations at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel, have revealed a rare half shekel coin from the first century, which was minted in 66 or 67 C.E. (Common Era). According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the coin is the first one found to originate from the Temple Mount. “This is the first time a coin minted at the Temple Mount itself has been found, and therein lies its immense importance, because similar coins have been found in the past in the Jerusalem area and in the Old City’’s Jewish quarter, as well as Masada, but they are extremely rare in Jerusalem,” said Dr. Gabriel Barkay. The half shekel coin was first minted during the Great Revolt against the Romans. The face of the coin is decorated with a branch of three pomegranates and ancient Hebrew letters reading “holy Jerusalem.” On the flip side, the letters say “half shekel”. The coin, that was found in the sifting project, though it was well preserved, showed some damage from a fire. Experts believe it was the same fire that destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E. Dr. Gabriel Barkay explained that “the half shekel coin was used to pay the temple taxes. The coins were apparently minted at Temple Mount itself by the Temple authorities.” The half shekel tax is mentioned in the book of Exodus (Portion Ki Tisa), commanding every Jew to contribute half a shekel to the Temple every year for the purpose of purchasing public sacrifices. So far, some 3,500 ancient coins have been discovered in the Temple Mount dirt sifting, ranging from earliest minting of coins during the Persian era all the way up to the Ottoman era. (ANI)

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