While Israel is awash with ancient artifacts of significance to Jewish history, there are many fewer in America. Thus it was an unusual event when U.S. authorities handed over a nearly two-millennia-old coin to Israeli officials. The Associated Press reports:
American authorities have returned a rare, 2,000-year-old Jewish coin to Israel nearly two decades after it was looted, smuggled, and put up for auction in the United States, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.
The quarter-shekel silver coin, made in the year 69, is one of just two confirmed to exist. The other has been in the British Museum’s collection for a century. It was minted during the fourth year of the first Jewish Revolt against the Roman empire in the 1st century CE. Several other examples of the coin are believed to be in private collectors’ hands.
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the coin was one of a hoard stolen by Palestinian looters from the Elah Valley west of Jerusalem—the site of the biblical battle between David and Goliath—in 2002. It was then smuggled to Jordan and on to Britain, where it received false documentation and was sent on to the United States.
It was slated to be sold at an auction in August 2017 but was seized by Homeland Security agents before it went on the block.