2,000-year-old Maccabean-era coin found in Jerusalem

This is a re-post from Israel Hayom

Bronze prutah bears image of King Antiochus IV, who declared death sentence on Jews • Tower of David Museum Director Eilat Lieber: It's exciting to find Antiochus himself thrown down here between the stones and tell him: We're still celebrating Hanukkah.

The Maccabean-era bronze prutah | Photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
Just in time for Hanukkah: A bronze coin that was in circulation in the time of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who decreed that the Jews must be annihilated and during whose reign the Maccabean revolt took place, has been discovered at the Tower of David archaeological site in Jerusalem.

No one expected that decades after the excavations at the Tower of David citadel wrapped up, new discoveries would still be made on the museum grounds. During routine cleaning and maintenance work at the site, chief conservator Orna Cohen noticed a metal object among the stones of the Hasmonean Wall inside the citadel. A careful examination revealed that it was a bronze prutah, a coin that was in use over 2,000 years ago.

The front of the coin features Antiochus wearing a crown. The reverse features the image of a goddess wrapped in a scarf.

Officials from the Tower of David noted that while there is no date on the coin, "we know that these coins were minted in Acre, which in that time was called Ptolemais, apparently between 172 and 168 BCE."

Antiochus' death sentence on the Jewish people sparked the Maccabean revolt, in which a small minority defeated much greater forces, leading to the re-sanctification the Holy Temple and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, an event commemorated by the approaching Hanukkah holiday.

Director and Chief Curator of the Tower of David Museum Eilat Lieber told Israel Hayom: "It's exciting to find, in the winter of 2016, Antiochus himself thrown down here between the stones and tell him: We're still here celebrating Hanukkah -- and how!"

Lieber added that "this is an object from Jerusalem of that time, found next to Hasmonean ruins. This coin offers additional evidence that backs up historical accounts and upholds what took place here."

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