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While Sifting Through Dirt

It is not easy for a child to realise the value of ancient artefacts. However, Liel Krutokop is different. Liel, an 11-year-old Israeli girl, recently found a silver coin that was likely minted in a Temple in AD 1! She has kept the coin with her, as she believes that it is the most valuable thing in the world. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has confirmed the news, saying in a statement that the girl got the coin while volunteering in an archeological project, named Emek Tzurim Sifting Project. According to the IAA, a priest, who joined the Jewish rebels against the Romans, had most probably minted the coin. Later, the coin, made of 14gm of pure silver, found its place in the temple.

Talking to the media, Head of the Numismatics Department at the IAA Dr Robert Kool recently said: “This is a rare find, since out of many thousands of coins discovered to date in archeological excavations, only about 30 are coins made of silver from the period of the Great Revolt.” He claimed that while one side of the coin features a cup and the inscription: “Israeli shekel” and “second year”, referring to the second year of the revolt (AD 67-68); other side features another inscription, reading: “Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew script, accompanied by another word that according to the experts refers to the headquarters of the High Priest in the temple.

Earlier, the young girl arrived in the City of David from Petah Tikva. She said: “When I got to Emek Tzurim, I thought there must be simple coins in the buckets, but I did not think I would find a coin myself, and certainly not such a rare coin from pure silver.” Liel stressed: “I was lucky to find it, but I also want to say thank you to my sister for choosing the bucket we sifted. If she had not chosen this particular bucket, I probably would not have found the coin.

It may be noted that people used to consider silver coins as an important expression of sovereignty in the First Century. According to archeologists, they obviously considered silver coins much more valuable than bronze coins. Two thousands years ago, people used a bronze coin to purchase a couple of loaves of bread. However, a silver coin could be used for buying expensive items, such as military equipment. Dr Kool explained: “A currency is a sign of sovereignty. If you go into rebellion, you use one of the most obvious symbols of Independence, and you mint coins.” He added: “The inscription on the coin clearly expresses the rebels’ aspirations. The choice to use ancient Hebrew script, which was no longer in use at the time, is not accidental. The use of this script came to express the longing of the people of the period for the days of David and Solomon and the days of a united Jewish kingdom – days when the people of Israel had full independence in the land.

City of David, Jerusalem

Meanwhile, archeologists have found a huge reserve of silver kept in the temple. Dr Kool is of the opinion that the silver were stocked in the temple, as the priest had a plan to mint coins from those reserves. “If so, we can cautiously say that this coin is apparently one of the only items we can hold today that originated on the temple itself,” he stressed.

For his part, Head of the the Excavation Team and senior Archeologist Ari Levy said that the location of the temple, “which connected the Shiloah Pool in the south of the City of David to the Temple Mount in the north, was Jerusalem’s main street during the Second Temple period, where thousands of pilgrims marched on their way to the Temple”. He further said: “There is no doubt that there would have been extensive trading here. This is evidenced by the many weights and bronze coins we have found here. But to find a rebel coin made of pure silver is definitely very special and exciting.

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