Ancient Jerusalem coins found in cave

Shimon Bar-Kokhba was a Judean who rose up against the Romans in occupied Judea in 132-135 AD. He has since become the subject of many plays, novels and operas.

The Second Judean revolt (otherwise known as the Bar-Kokhba revolt) eventually failed, and the last stand of his army was thought to be at modern day Beitar Illit, just outside Jerusalem on the West Bank.

The survivors fled into caves. It has often been thought that these included caves not just in remote places, but also well populated areas.

Now, the amazing discovery of 120 gold, silver and bronze coins just north of Jerusalem backs this idea up.

Bar-Kochba coins
Ancient Bar-Kochba coins

The coins are easily dated because the rebels used Roman coins as a base; but Jewish words often appear too, for example the phrase "for the freedom of Jerusalem".

The number of these modified coins in existence is relatively small, and this is believed to be the largest single discovery of them ever found. These examples are in good condition, showing minimal evidence of circulation.

They were found alongside some pottery and weapons.

Previously, such coins have reached the open market very quickly. In this case the archaeologists, including the excavation's leader, Boaz Zissu, are keen to prevent this, at least until the coins can be properly studied.

Other contemporary Roman coins were also found in the cave.

"Bar-Kokhba coins of this quality and quantity have never before been discovered in one location in Israel." commented Professor Amos Franklin of Hebrew University.


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