(JustPatriots.com)- Archeologists have discovered rare coins while excavating a fortified section of Jerusalem near the Temple Mount, including a silver half-shekel that dates back to the period of the Great Revolt against Rome that occurred from 70-66 AD.
In a press release last Tuesday, a team of archeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Herbert W. Armstrong College in Oklahoma said most of the coins are bronze and were found in a massive public building dating back to the time of the Second Temple.
The rarest coin, the silver half-shekel, was minted by the Jews despite only the Roman emperor having the authority to mint silver coins. The half-shekel dates from the time when Jews rebelled against the Roman empire in Judea.
During the Great Revolt, Jews began minting their own coins, especially in silver, as a political statement and expression of liberation from Roman rule. Most of the silver coins featured a goblet with ancient Hebrew script above it and the year of the revolt.
The other side of the coin featured a branch with three pomegranates surrounded by the inscription “Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew.
According to the press release, the silver half-shekel is the third of its kind found in excavations in Jerusalem, but one of the few to be found in archeological digs.
Half-shekel coins were used to pay the tax to worship at the Second Temple.
The team’s numismatic expert Dr. Yoav Farhi, the curator of the Kadman Numismatic Pavilion at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, said before the Great Revolt the half-shekel silver coins used to pay the tax were minted in Tyre in Lebanon. Those coins featured an image of Tyre’s principal deity, Herakles-Melqart on one side and an eagle surrounded by the inscription, “Tyre the holy and city of refuge” on the other side in ancient Greek.
According to Dr. Farhi, the silver half-shekels from the Great Revolt were the first and last Jewish coin to bear the name “shekel” until 1980 when the Bank of Israel produced Israeli shekel coins.