Last week, two Israeli hikers came across an ancient coin, apparently exposed by recent winter rains. Realizing its likely historical value, they handed it over to the archaeologist Zvika Tzuk, who in turn showed it to his colleague Danny Syon. Tzuk and Syon identified the coin as one minted by followers of the Jewish rebel Shimon Bar Kokhba during the brief period when they managed to liberate parts of Palestine from Roman rule. Michael Bachner writes:
Despite the fact that the coin hadn’t yet undergone professional cleaning yet, Syon succeeded in deciphering the images and inscriptions on the rare coin, determining that it dates back to 133 or 134 CE.
One side of the coin had an image of a palm tree with seven branches and two clusters of grapes above the name “Shimon”—Bar Kokhba’s first name—in ancient Hebrew. The reverse side of the coin had a vine leaf with a twig and around it an inscription meaning “the second year of the freedom of Israel.” Coins of this type were minted during the Bar Kokhba revolt from 132 to 135 CE, during which time Jewish rebels managed to regain some autonomy from Rome. The “second year” is either the year 133 or the year 134 CE. . . .
“The road near where the coin was found connects a number of communities with hiding places from the days of Bar Kokhba,” said Tzuk. “It is possible that one of the residents or fighters who moved from one community to another lost the coin, which waited 1,885 years until it was found.”