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Rare Jewish 2,000-year-old silver coin discovered in Judean Desert

Discovery of the coin constitutes additional archaeological proof of the ancient bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel

The rare half-shekel silver coin after cleaning (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old silver half-shekel coin from the First Jewish Revolt era in the Judean Desert, located in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve near the ancient Jewish fortress Masada.

The rare coin, which is dated 66/67 C.E., has the inscription “The Holy Jerusalem” written in ancient Hebrew.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), along with the Ministry of Heritage and Civil Administration Archaeology Unit in Judea, discovered the coin as part of their joint Judean Desert Survey Project.

Yaniv David Levy, an IAA scholar, emphasized the uniqueness of the ancient Jewish coin.

“Coins from the first year of the revolt, such as this one, are rare. During the Second Temple period, Jewish pilgrims used to pay a Temple tax in half-shekel coins. For about two centuries, Tyrian-minted coins, made of fine silver and a status symbol in the region, were used for this contribution. In the course of the revolt, the rebels minted alternative coins inscribed with 'shekel Israel,' 'half-shekel' and 'quarter-shekel.' It seems that the rituals in the Temple continued during the revolt and these coins were now used by the rebels,” Levy explained.

The rare half-shekel silver coin (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Heritage Minister Rabbi Amihai Eliyahu said the discovery of the ancient coin constitutes additional archaeological proof of the ancient bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

“The exciting discovery brings further evidence of the deep and indisputable connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and the Land of Israel," Eliyahu said.

"According to the Israel Antiquities Authority researchers, the First Year Revolt coin is rare, dating back about 2,000 years, and the inscription reads ‘Holy Jerusalem.’ This amazing find is another strong sign of our people’s roots in the Land of Israel,” the heritage minister added.

The rare half-shekel silver coin before it was cleaned (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Judea is the ancient heartland of the Jewish nation.

Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeologist from Hebrew University – Jerusalem, argued in a recent paper that the biblical Kingdom of Judah expanded earlier than previously believed.


The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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