Rare Silver Coin from Ancient Temple Period Discovered During Conservation Project of Jerusalem’s Tower of David

Tyre coin uncovered during renewal project, which will be displayed at the Tower of David Museum next year. (Tal Rogovski/ Tower of David Museum)

A box of artifacts was rediscovered during a major conservation project to restore the stones of the “Phasael” tower of the Jerusalem citadel’s $40 million renewal project, the Tower of David Museum said Monday.

Additionally, the team discovered a box of artifacts, originally excavated in the 1980s. Within it, they uncovered a rare silver coin from the Second Temple period  — a “Tyre shekel.”

Two images are imprinted on either side of the coin: On one face is Melqart, the chief god of the Phoenician city of Tyre, and on the other, an eagle.

The coins were struck at some point between 125 BCE and the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 66 CE, when they were used to pay a half-shekel tax. Talmudic sources suggest that the Tyrian shekel was likely the only means of paying the head tax at the Temple for its upkeep.

Although well-known in ancient and biblical sources, these coins are rare — only a few have been found. The coin will be displayed as part of the museum’s new permanent exhibition next year.

During the planning stages of the project, conservationists discovered a large, structural crack running from the top to the bottom of the tower, which soon became the project’s central focus, according to the museum.

As part of the team’s renewal project, conservationists cleaned and treated the stones of the tower — dating back more than 2,000 years — with temporary glue to maintain stability.

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SOURCE: The Times of Israel, Nurit Chinn

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