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Extremely Rare Second Temple Coin Found

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Ancient Silver Shekel Coin


[font:Courier New] Extremely Rare Second Temple Coin Found[/font]

Saturday, 22 March 2008 19:55


An extremely rare silver coin has been found in the place of a former drainage channel of Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple, which is a point in Jewish history that starts in 539 BCE, when the first of the exiles came back followed by the declaration of Cyprus, or starting with the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem, which took place in 516 BCE and up to the deconstruction of Temples, a point in history dated back to 70 CE. It is worth mentioning that the silver Jewish coin was used by the Jews to pay the head tax to the Temple. The tax was half-shekel.



Archaeologists found the ancient silver coin during an archaeological excavation performed in the City of David, which is below and east of Jerusalem Old City. The finding represents a foreign coin with a denomination that was used throughout the period of the Second Temple for paying the Biblical half-shekel head-tax.




Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority together with Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa supervises the excavations that are being performed on behalf of several organizations, including the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation.




The ancient silver coin represents a shekel denomination. In the Bible it is written that the Jews are asked to give away half a shekel each for sustaining the Temple of Jerusalem. People started paying their share on the first day of the month of Adar. This is the time when the heralding of the shekelim occurred. The collection ended on the first day of the moth of Nissan, which is the starting point of the new fiscal year for the Temple. It was the time when public sacrifice purchase was renovated.




The discovered silver shekel has a weight of 13 grams. The obverse[1084] of the silver coin features the head of Melqart, the central deity of the city of Tyre. Melqart is a Jewish god equivalent to the Semitic one, called Baal. The reverse[1139] of the coin includes the image of an eagle upon a ship's prow. According to the archaeologists the silver shekel was struck in 22 CE.




Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority said that the coin fell out and went into the drainage channel when its owner was going to the Temple to pay the half-shekel head tax. The same stories happen today when sometimes coins fall from peoples' pockets and find their way into drainage openings.




The construction of the Second Temple was held in the 6th century BC and it is worth mentioning that the Temple stood in the times of Jesus.


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I wish they would explain what about made it rare. Shekels of Tyre are not that scarce. Was there something special about this one or is it just a case of a headline writer just assuming that something that old must be extremely rare? I suspect the second because you notice that in the first paragraph he seems to imply that this was a Jewish coin which it wasn't.


I wonder why he just describes the obverse but they just show four pictures of the reverse side.

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