Israeli archaeologists have discovered coins they believe date
back to the failed second century Jewish rebellion against Roman
They were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea, which families
passed through as they fled the brutal repression that ended the
three-year rebellion, led by Shimon Bar Kochba in AD 132.
The nine coins - which together would have been worth enough to
buy a house - were found under a rock, and are a significant
addition to patchy archaeological findings for the period.
Of particular interest is the silver Petra Drachma, at 12 grams
(1/2 ounce) the largest Jewish coin ever minted.
On one side, Jerusalem's second temple - destroyed by the Romans
in AD 70 - is stamped over a portrait of a Roman emperor.
The other side shows the four plant species used during
ceremonies for the festival of Sukkot.
"Bar Kochba never minted his own coins, so what we have here is
a Roman coin with the temple and the four species stamped over the
portrait of the Roman emperor," said Hanan Eshel.
Mr Eshel, who is head of the Jewish Studies and Archaeology
Department of Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, led the
archaeological digs near the Ein Gedi oasis with help from the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Centre for Cave Research.
Although some 2,000 coins from the rebellion are known to exist,
this is only the second time some have been discovered on site by
archaeologists, he said.
"Neither the Jews or the Romans considered the rebellion to be a
success, so very little was written about it," said Mr Eshel.
"That is why archaeological finds are so important."
The coins will go on public display at the Israel Museum in