Rare bronze coins dated to Jewish revolt against Rome discovered in Jerusalem

Dr. Eliat Mazar of Israel’s Hebrew University has made a timely discovery ahead of the Jewish holiday of freedom - rare bronze coins dating back to the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire (66-70 C.E.), which were found in Ophel near the Temple Mount.
Eilat Mazar Photo Credit: Eilat Mazar/Hebrew University

An Israeli archaeologist from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has discovered dozens of bronze coins dating back to the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire (66-70 C.E.) in excavations in a cave near the Temple Mount. Broken pottery vessels, including jars and cooking pots, were also found in the area.

The 1.5 cm thick coins were left behind by Jewish residents who hid from the Romans during the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. The great majority of the coins date from the final year of the Jewish revolt, known as "year four."

The coins were decorated with Hebrew inscriptions and Jewish symbols, such as the four biblical plant species: palm, myrtle, citron and willow, and a picture of the goblet that was used in the Temple service. The earlier coins were inscribed with the slogan “For the Freedom of Zion,” while the later ones were changed to “For the Redemption of Zion,” reflecting the changing mood of the rebels during the latter years of the revolt.

The coins found in Jerusalem Photo Credit: Eilat Mazar/Hebrew University

“A discovery like this - ancient coins bearing the words “Freedom” and “Redemption” found right before the Jewish Festival of Freedom -Passover - begins is incredibly moving”, said the archaeologist, Dr. Eliat Mazar, who explained that the coins were well preserved as they were only used for a short period of time.

Mazar explained that the cave acted as a kind time capsule of life in Jerusalem under the siege. Remarkably, a similar number of coins from the fourth year of the revolt were found near the Western Wall, by Professor Benjamin Mazar, Eilat Mazar’s grandfather, who conducted excavations right after Israel’s Six Day War on behalf of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.



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