The coin, minted by the Jews in 69 CE on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple, bears writing in ancient Hebrew script: “For the victory of Zion”, and there is a goblet below the inscription.

The Four Species are present on the other side of the coin, and above them the words “‘Shanah Arba'” – symbolizing the fourth year of the Jewish revolt against the Romans. A little after this year, in 70 CE, the struggle ended, with the destruction of the Second Temple.

“Throughout the period of the revolt, the Jews minted coins, but in the fourth year out of the five years of the revolt, it can be seen that instead of the inscription “Freedom of Zion”, the inscription “For the redemption of Zion” appears on the coins. The difference between freedom and redemption expresses the change in consciousness and reality that occurred at that time.” This is how archaeologist Eli Shukrun explains it. According to him, “coins minted in the second and third year of the rebellion can be found in abundance, but coins from the fourth year are a rarer find.”

The coins were discovered as part of the “archaeological experience” offered to the general public – a dirt-screening project in the Emek Tzurim National Park from the City of David Association. As part of the activity, the participants – children and adults who come to Emek Tzurim, are invited to become archaeologists for a day and sift through archaeological dirt from excavations conducted by the Antiquities Authority in the City of David and throughout ancient Jerusalem.

The coin was uncovered in dirt removed from the drainage canal in the City of David National Park, which passed under the main street of Jerusalem at the end of the time of the Second Temple. Both according to the writings of Josephus, and that of the archaeological findings, the last Jewish rebels hid from the Romans in this canal.

“It is possible that this coin was in the pocket of one of the residents of Jerusalem who hid from the Romans in the caves under the streets of the city,” says Shukrun, ”and perhaps it rolled into the drainage canal while the person holding it walked the streets of Jerusalem about 2000 years ago.”

The timing of this find is extraordinary: the beginning of the days of Bein Hameitzarim, which begin today with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz – the date when the wall of Jerusalem was breached, and continue for three weeks until the fast of the 9th of Av – the day when the first and second temples were destroyed.

"Redemption of Zion" coin.Photo: The archaeological experience in Emek Zurim from City of David
"Redemption of Zion" coin.Photo: The archaeological experience in Emek Zurim from City of David