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Rare half-shekel silver coin from First Jewish Revolt found in the Judean Desert

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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.”

IAA

Header Image Credit : IAA

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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