Rare hoard of coins found in Modi'in, Israel

Wednesday, June 08, 2016 |  Israel Today Staff

The search for the Hasmonean city of Modi'in has been ongoing for decades with many interesting finds being discovered including a Byzantine settlement and Byzantine era monastery.

Some of the Byzantine era ruins were discovered to have been built on ruins of an earlier settlement. It was during the excavation of these ruins by the Israel Antiquities Authority that the hoard of second century BCE coins was discovered.

The treasure was hidden in a rock crevice, up against a wall of an impressive agricultural estate that was discovered and date to the Hasmonean period (126 BCE).

Excavation director, Avraham Tendler said, "the cache may have belonged to a Jew who hid his money in the hope of coming back to collect it, but he was unlucky and never did return".

"This rare cache of silver coins from the Hasmonean period comprised of shekels and half-shekels (tetradrachms and didrachms) were minted in the city of Tyre and bear the images of the king, Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II. The cache that we found is compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. He buried his money in the hope of coming back and collecting it, but was apparently unfortunate and never returned. It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it".

Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, the head of the Coin Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority added, "The cache, which consists of 16 coins, contains one or two coins from every year between 135–126 BCE, and a total of nine consecutive years are represented. It seems that some thought went into collecting the coins, and it is possible that the person who buried the cache was a coin collector. He acted in just the same way as stamp and coin collectors manage collections today".

Numerous bronze coins minted by the Hasmonean kings were also discovered in the excavation. They bear the names of the kings such as Yehohanan, Judah, Jonathan or Mattathias and his title: High Priest and Head of the Council of the Jews. The finds indicate that the estate continued to operate throughout the Early Roman period. The Jewish inhabitants of the estate meticulously adhered to the laws of ritual purity and impurity: they installed ritual baths (miqwe’ot) in their settlement and used vessels made of chalk, which according to Jewish law cannot become ritually unclean.

The unique finds revealed in the excavation will be preserved in an archaeological park in the heart of the new neighborhood slated for construction in Modi‘in-Maccabim-Re‘ut.

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