Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a rare half-shekel silver coin from Year One of the First Jewish Revolt.
The First Jewish Revolt was the first of several uprisings by the Jewish population of Judea against the Roman Empire. The seeds of the revolt was in part caused by increasing religious tensions and high taxation, leading to the plundering of the Second Temple and the arrest of senior Jewish political and religious figures by the Romans.
The Romans mobilised four Legions (supported by forces of Agrippa) to subdue the rebellion and punish the Jewish people as an example to others.
After several battles, the city of Jerusalem and the Second Temple was destroyed, with contemporary historian, Titus Flavius Josephus. stating: “Jerusalem … was so thoroughly razed to the ground by those that demolished it to its foundations, that nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation.”
The coin was found in a cave located in the Ein Gedi nature reserve, which may have been lost by a rebel who escaped to the desert during the revolt.
An inscription on one side of the coin appears to show “Holy Jerusalem”, written in ancient Hebrew script. The other side of the coin depicts a chalice with the letter Aleph inscribed above, marking the first year of the outbreak of the Revolt and the value of a half-shekel.
According to the researchers, the chalice is a characteristic symbol on Jewish coins in currency towards the end of the Second Temple period. These coins were minted in the values of shekel and half-shekel at the time of the First Revolt between the years AD 66 to 70.
According to Yaniv David Levy, Israel Antiquities Authority numismatic scholar, “Coins from the first year of the Revolt, such as this one, are rare. During the Second Temple period, Jewish pilgrims used to pay a Temple Tax in half-shekel coins. For about two centuries, Tyrian-minted coins, made of fine silver and a status symbol in the region, were used for this contribution. During the revolt the rebels minted alternative coins inscribed with “Shekel Israel”, “Half-Shekel” and “Quarter-Shekel”. It seems that the rituals in the Temple continued during the revolt and these coins were now used by the rebels.”
Header Image Credit : IAA
Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction
A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.
Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.
The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.
Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.
The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.
“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.
The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.
Header Image Credit : INAH
Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle
Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.
Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.
Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.
The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”
Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”
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