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Near East

Israeli Caves Yield Bar Kochba Coins

Edited from BBC News, 18 April 2003

Israeli archaeologists announced in 2003 that they had discovered coins which they believed dated back to the failed second century Jewish rebellion against Roman rule.

The coins were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea, which families passed through as they fled the brutal repression that ended the three-year rebellion that had been 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 the largest Jewish coin ever minted.

On one side of the coin is shown Jerusalem's second temple - destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 - but here stamped over a portrait of a Roman emperor.

The other side shows the four plant species used during ceremonies for the festival of Sukkot.

Few records

'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 at the time was 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.

He pointed out that, although some two thousand coins from the rebellion are known to exist, this was only the second time that some had been discovered on site by archaeologists.

'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 were due to go on public display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Hadrian inscription
One possibly reason for the revolt (or a reaction to it) was the establishment of the pagan temple and the colony of Aelia Capitolina which appears to have been named after the Emperor Hadrian

 

 

 

     
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