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2,000-Year-Old Coin Cache Uncovered


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Pottery shards found during construction to widen the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway led archeologists to a previously unknown settlement from the late Second Temple period during the time of Jesus.

In one of the houses, archaeologists found a ceramic box containing 114 bronze coins dating to the fourth year of the Great Revolt by the Jews against the Romans before the destruction in 70 AD of the Temple built by King Herod.

Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors Pablo Betzer and Eyal Marco said the coins appear to have been buried several months prior to the fall of Jerusalem at the end of the rebellion.

"Evidently someone here feared the end was approaching and hid his property, perhaps in the hope of collecting it later when calm was restored to the region," one of the directors explained.

One side of the coins is stamped with a chalice and the Hebrew inscription "To the Redemption of Zion." The motif on the other side, inscribed "Year Four," meaning the fourth year of the Great Revolt, includes a bundle of lulav and two etrogs, used during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.

The directors found the coin cache in a corner of three-room building with a courtyard. It could have been buried inside a wall or in the floor, they said.

Archaeologists say the residents of this settlement, like most of the Jewish villages in Judea, were active in the two major uprisings against the Romans, the Great Revolt and the BarKochba Revolt. As a result of its involvement in the revolts, the settlement was destroyed twice and not resettled, they said.

The IAA and Netivei Israel (National Transport Infrastructure Company) are examining the possibility of preserving the ancient village as part of the landscape development alongside the highway.

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