Two-hundred years after the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids—which the holiday of Hanukkah celebrates—the Jews of the Land of Israel launch another, less successful uprising, this time against the Romans. To mark their aspirations for independence, the latter rebels minted coins, one of which was recently discovered by an eleven-year-old girl. The Times of Israel reports:
A rare 2,000-year-old silver shekel coin, thought to have been minted on the Temple Mount plaza from the plentiful silver reserves held there at the time, has been uncovered in Jerusalem. If it were indeed minted there, it would make the coin one of the very few items uncovered that were manufactured at the holy site.
Robert Kool, head of the coin department at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), suggested that the coin may have been minted at the plaza of the holy site by one of the priests who worked in coordination with the rebel leaders, providing them with assistance.
The coin weighs approximately 14 grams (0.4 ounces) and has an engraving of an image of a cup on one side, with the caption “Israeli shekel” and the Hebrew letters shin and bet, shorthand for “second year,” i.e., the second year of the Great Revolt against the Romans (67-68 CE). The other side of the coin has an inscription that the IAA said was an engraving of the headquarters of the high priest, as well as the words “Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew script.
“The choice to use ancient Hebrew script, which was no longer in use at the time, is not accidental,” Kool said. “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.”