Gold Coins Found in Israel’s Tower of David

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, has a rich and ancient history and is cherished by people of many religions. 2016 came to a close with a great historical find for the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem with the discovery of a 2000-year-old Greek coin that is confirmed to have been minted by the Greeks.

This Hanukkah Coin is Special

Between 222-186 B.C.E, the Greeks had taken over Jerusalem and the Jewish temple and destroyed all Jewish symbols and relics. The Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to make the Hebrews denounce their faith and worship Greek gods.

A family known as the Maccabees, made up of his Mattathias and his sons, led a revolt against Antiochus and recaptured the Temple of Jerusalem. Hanukkah or Chanukah is a Jewish Holiday celebrated in the month of December that commemorates the Maccabees’ victory. The holiday, also known as the Holiday of Light celebrates the miracle that occurred when the Hebrews were trying to light their menorah but only found one small jar of oil enough to last one day but it lasted for eight days.

How the Coin was Found

During routine maintenance works of the Tower of David Citadel in December 2016, this ancient coin was discovered. How it had been missed in the other excavations, no one can tell. However, history just cannot stay hidden and this time around, it has come in the form of a Hanukkah era coin. Other Israel coins have been found in Jerusalem, but a rare coin dating back centuries is an exciting find.

Though the coin has no date on it, it was identified as Greek from Ptolemais during 172 and 168, BCE. According to Eilat Lieber, the director of the Tower of David Museum, the coin has the portrait of Antiochus IV Epiphanes wearing a crown on one side and the other side an image of Demeter, a Greek god wearing a scarf. The Greeks most likely used the coin during that time. As a monotheistic religion, it’s unlikely the Hebrews used this coin that honors a foreign god in their everyday trading activities unless they were forced to do so.

The Coin’s Value

The museum’s director says that back then, this coin would have been worth about 25 cents, but that today, its value is at least $25,000. The coin’s history adds value to the coin beyond monetary value.

In the numismatic world, the rarer the Israeli gold coins and the older they are, the more valuable they are. Images and analysis have already confirmed that this coin is older than 2000 years.

Other Exciting Finds

In early 2015, Laurie Rimon, a hiker found one of the rarest Israel Gold coins. The gold coin was determined to be from the Roman Empire. This Roman coin is so rare that only one other coin like it exists in the world.

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