Routine cleaning and conservation leads to Hanukkah treasure!

Writen by: Community Writers

Almost thirty years after the completion of archaeological excavations in the courtyard of the Tower of David, no one expected to find more new discoveries from the past! But it turns out that Jerusalem never ceases to surprise and as timing would have it.. just before we begin to celebrate Hanukkah, a coin from the time of Antiochus was found among the stones.

During routine conservation work in the archaeological garden, Ms Orna Cohen, Chief Conservation Officer at the Tower of David, and an archaeologist of over 35 years, saw a metallic item flash among the stones of the wall. On closer examination, it was in bronze-leaf cent, which was used in Jerusalem in the days of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, an unwelcome guest in the history of the city


אורנה כהן, ארכיאולוגית

Orna Cohen at The Tower of David. Photo credit: Shay Amiran

Antiochus was the king that made harsh decrees that sparked the Maccabean revolt that in turn led to the victory of the Maccabees and the reclaiming of the Temple. Today this is marked, together with the miracle of the oil light that burned for eight days instead of one, by the festival of Hanukkah.

The coin was found near the Hasmonean walls that cut through the center of the citadel’s courtyard next to the impressive tower base built during the day of Yonaton and Shimon, brothers of Judah the Maccabee. In addition to the tower bases, there are also ballista stone and iron arrowheads that were discovered during the original excavation of the Tower of David. They are all evidence of the battles that took place in Jerusalem in the days when the city struggled for independence against the rulers of the Seleucids.



“The head portrait of the crowned king is engraved on the coin..”

The head portrait of the crowned king is engraved on the coin and on other side a goddess is shown wrapped in scarf.

It is hard to give an exact date to the coin, but it is know that these coins were minted in Acre, a city on the northern shore of Israel that was once called Antiochia Ptolemais after Ptolemy and the coin is dated sometime between 172 – 168 BCE.



“A goddess is shown wrapped in scarf..”

What was this coin worth back then … it appears that it would not have help in a grand shopping spree and in today’s terms would be worth around 10 agorot.

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