A cache of rare coins from the period of the Jews’ Great Revolt against the Romans has been discovered at the Ophel archaeological site near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.
The 1.5-cm (0.6 inch) bronze coins are well preserved, probably because they were in use for a short time.
“The coins were left behind by Jewish residents who hid in a large cave for four years (66-70 CE) — from the Roman siege of Jerusalem, up until the destruction of the Second Temple and the city of Jerusalem,” explained Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar.
“While several of the coins date to the early years of the revolt, the great majority are from its final year, otherwise known as, ‘Year Four’ (69-70 CE).”
“Significantly, during the final year, the Hebrew inscription on the coins was changed from ‘For the Freedom of Zion’ to ‘For the Redemption of Zion,’ a shift which reflects the changing mood of the rebels during this period of horror and famine.”
In addition to Hebrew inscriptions, the coins were decorated with 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.
Many broken pottery vessels, including jars and cooking pots, were also found at the site.
“These finds all date back to the time of the rebellion and were found in Ophel Cave directly above a Hasmonean period layer that was situated at the base of the cave,” Dr. Mazar said.
“It is remarkable that this cave was never discovered by subsequent residents of Jerusalem nor used again after the Second Temple period,” he added.
“In this way the cave acts as a veritable time capsule of life in Jerusalem under the siege and during the four-year revolt against the Roman Empire.”
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