Bronze Coin Dating to Maccabean Revolt in Hanukkah Story Unearthed in Jerusalem
JNS.org – A bronze coin that was in circulation at the time of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who decreed that the Jews must be annihilated and during whose reign the Maccabean revolt made famous in the Hanukkah story took place, has been discovered at the Tower of David archaeological site in Jerusalem.
The discovery, made during routine maintenance work, was a surprise to archaeologists, who believed they had thoroughly excavated the site over the last few decades. Nevertheless, chief conservator Orna Cohen noticed a metal object among the stones of the Hasmonean Wall inside the citadel. A careful examination revealed that it was a bronze prutah, a coin that was used more than 2,000 years ago.
The front of the coin features Antiochus wearing a crown. The other side features the image of a goddess wrapped in a scarf.
Officials from the Tower of David noted that while there is no date on the coin, “We know that these coins were minted in Acre, which in that time was called Ptolemais, apparently between 172 and 168 BCE.”
Antiochus’s death sentence on the Jewish people sparked the Maccabean revolt, in which a small minority defeated much greater forces, leading to the re-sanctification the Holy Temple and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, an event commemorated by this month’s Hanukkah holiday. Director and Chief Curator of the Tower of David Museum Eilat Lieber said the coin “offers additional evidence that backs up historical accounts and upholds what took place here.”