An ancient Hebrew coin minted during a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judea has been found during an excavation of caves by the Dead Sea, the Israel Antiquities Authority recently announced.
The bronze coin was discovered at the Nahal Darga Nature Reserve. It is dated to the second year of the Bar Kokhba revolt, a failed Jewish uprising against Roman rule in Judea that broke out in 132 CE, following Roman repression of Jewish practice. The rebellion lasted until 135 CE, ending with the widespread killing and enslavement of the Jewish population, their exile from Jerusalem, and the renaming of the province of Judea to Syria Palaestina.
One side of the coin includes a depiction of a date palm with the name “Shimon” in ancient Hebrew, an apparent reference to Shimon Bar Kokhba, the leader of the eponymous revolt. The other side features a vine leaf with a surrounding inscription reading, “Year Two of the Freedom of Israel.”
Such coins were minted by Jewish authorities during the rebellion in a bid to demonstrate defiance of Roman rule and boost morale, the IAA explained. Roman coins were used for the raw material.
“This coin is not the only discovery attributed to the Jewish rebels that were retrieved in the current excavation,” said Amir Ganor, IAA’s director of the excavation. “Remains of unique textiles and fabrics in various colors were also found.”
Excavation at the Nahal Darga caves have yielded other artifacts during previous excavations. In 1951, papyri from the Jewish administration of Bar Kokhba was found at the Murabba’at Cave II. “Additional excavations at the site may reveal whether this cave served as Bar Kokhba’s headquarters during the revolt that centered on the area of the Judean Desert,” IAA said.
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