JERUSALEM (VINnews) — A pure silver Shekel, used by merchants in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period 2000 years ago, was recently discovered by Liel Krotokopf, an 11-year-old girl from Petah Tikva. The discovery was made in earth from the City of David which is being sifted at a special center built near the Mount of Olives and is open to the public, who can participate in the sifting process.Click to get Text Message Updates right to your phone
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Researchers believe that the coin was made from silver donated to the Second Temple and may even have been minted by one of the Kohanim (priests) serving in the Temple. The coin, which weighs 14 grams, has a picture of a goblet with the caption “Shekel Yisrael” underneath. Next to the goblet the letters Shin Bet appear- representing Shana Bet, the second year of the rebellion against the Romans, or 67 C.E.
Dr. Robert Kuhl, director of the ancient coins department in the Israel Antiquity Authority(IAA), said that “this is a rare discovery, since only about 30 of the thousands of coins discovered in archaeological digs up to this point were made of silver.
The coin was discovered in earth removed from the “pilgrim’s path” leading from the City of David to the Second Temple. Researchers says that there was significant commercial activity on this path, as testified to by the weights and bronze coins discovered there.
Dr. Kuhl believes that the silver came from the temple reserves and was minted by one of the Kohanim who was assisting the leaders of the rebellion. “This is high-quality silver. Where could such silver be found in those times? Only in the temple. Thus we can surmise that this coin is one of the few artefacts we have today which was actually in the temple itself.
“Everyone knows of the Arch of Titus in Rome and the descriptions of temple booty on it but an ancient inscription revealed by Jose Alfeldi teaches of the huge reserves of silver in the temple,” adds Dr. Amit Reem, director of the Jerusalem region in the IAA. “This inscription revealed that the Colosseum in Rome was built from the loot taken from the temple.
“The inscription says that ‘Emperor Vespasian (whose son Titus destroyed the temple) ordered the building of this amphitheatre from his part of the booty.’ Try and imagine the amount of booty and silver the Romans found in the temple storehouses.
11-year-old Liel said that “we poured the bucket with earth on the strainer and as we were sifting, I saw something round. I didn’t know what it was but it looked different than the other stones. My father brought it to a worker who showed it to the archaeologist. He said it was from silver and I was very excited. I didn’t imagine that I myself would find a coin especially not such a rare coin from pure silver.”
Dr. Kuhl adds that “a coin is a mark of sovereignty. If you are rebelling, you use one of the symbols of independence and mint your own coins. The ancient Hebrew script on the coins expresses the ambitions of the rebels, since such script was not in use at the time. The script was meant to express the longing for the period of David and Solomon- a period when the Jewish nation had full independence in the country.”