Last Wednesday a collection of coins burned and charred from the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were displayed for the very first time. Altogether 70 coins were found in an excavation site near the Kotel.
“These really show us the impact of the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century…These are a very vivid, dramatic example of that destruction… The most important coins we have are from those last four or five years of the rebellion against the Roman army, and one coin we found was actually minted very close to the destruction of the Second Temple.”
The Jews of Judea rebelled against the Roman Empire in A.D. 66, when they kicked Roman forces out of Jerusalem. In A.D. 70, after Roman legions had won many important battles throughout the country, they breached the city walls. They went through the streets of Jerusalem killing Jewish civilians regardless of gender or age and finally destroyed the Temple, Judaism’s holiest site.
The coins were found in an excavation site of an ancient street below the Temple Mount. Archaeologists sifted through debris and boulders which was thrown off of the Temple Mount during the raid, when they found the road and the hoards of coins.
The coins are part of a larger exhibition at Jerusalem’s Archaeological Garden. They are cased in glass. Some are melted down to unrecognizable chunks of carbonized bronze; the damage is from the flames which destroyed the Temple.
Also featured in the exhibit are other coins found in the holy site at Jerusalem, in the last three years from Europe, North Africa and Persia. The display testifies to the wonderful eclectic and international character of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago; minus one Holy Temple, things have not changed so much.