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Wadi of Wonders: Israeli archeologists discover ancient coins dating back 2,000 years in Judea and Samaria

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Coins date back to the ‘The Great Revolt’ and Bar-Kokhba Revolt of the Second Temple period and include inscriptions such as ‘The Freedom of Zion’ and ‘The Freedom of Jerusalem’

By ILANIT CHERNICK

In a fascinating discovery, Israeli archeologists from Bar-Ilan University unearthed several coins dating back 2,000 years at Wadi er-Rashash in Judea and Samaria.

Both coins are from the Jewish revolts against the Romans during the Second Temple period.

One of the coins, said Bar-Ilan archeology professor and team leader Dr. Dvir Raviv, is believed to be from the Great Revolt while the second coin is believed to be from the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

The first coin found at the Hirbet Jib’it ruins “was minted around 67/68 AD and bears a vine leaf and Hebrew inscription ‘Herut Zion’ – ‘The Freedom of Zion’ – on one side and on the other side it has a vase with two handles with the inscription ‘Year Two,’” Raviv explained.
The coin, he pointed out, is part of several additional finds from the Second Temple period and the revolts against the Romans, which have been discovered at the site. 

Other finds in the area include ritual baths, hiding complexes, chalkstone vessels and burial caves, “all of which belonged to a Jewish settlement that existed at the site until the Bar-Kokhba revolt.”

Wadi er-Rashash – the area where the ancient coins were discovered.
(Photo Credit: Yechezkel Blumstein)

The second coin, which was found in Wadi er-Rashash was minted around 134/135 AD. 

“On one side appears a palm branch, probably a lulav, which was the symbol from the Jewish holiday of Succot, inside a wreath,” he said, adding that it’s surrounded by the inscription “LeHerut Yerushalayim,” which means “For the Freedom of Jerusalem.”
On the other side, he said, is what seems to be a musical instrument, likely a lyre, “and the inscription ‘Shimon,’ the first name of the rebel leader Shimon Ben Kosva, better known as Bar-Kokhba.”

Raviv said the location of the find is significant because that the cave in Wadi er-Rashash, where the Bar-Kokhba coin was found, is located about six kilometers north of the Araq en-Na’asaneh Cave in Wadi a-Daliyeh, “which was believed to was considered the northernmost refuge cave of the Bar-Kokhba revolt in the Judean Desert.” 

“The Bar-Kokhba coin from Wadi er-Rashash indicates the presence of a Jewish population in the region up to 134/5 CE, in contrast to a previous claim that Jewish settlement in the highlands north of Jerusalem was destroyed during the Great Revolt and not inhabited afterward,” Raviv highlighted. 

The Bar Kokhba Revolt coin found in the Wadi er-Rashash Cave.
(Photo Credit: Tal Rogovsky)

He stressed that “this coin is also the first evidence that the Acrabatta region, the northernmost of the districts of Judea during the Roman period, was controlled by the Bar-Kokhba administration.”

Concluding, Raviv emphasized that there were “many ceramic shards” found next to the coin, which were believed to have been brought to the cave by Jewish refugees during the Bar-Kokhba revolt. 

“In this way, the cave has come to be considered one of the dozens of natural caves that were used by the rebels in the Judean Desert,” he said.

**Featured Image: A Great Revolt coin found at the Hirbet Jibit ruins. (Photo Credit: Tal Rogovsky)

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