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Rare Roman Bronze Coin Unearthed in Israel

| Archaeology

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The obverse of the 1,800-year-old bronze coin bears the head of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius.

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The 1,800-year-old Roman bronze coin. Image credit: Nir Distelfeld, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The well-preserved Roman coin was found in northern Israel by an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldier.

“The coin was probably lost by its owner on one of the roads, until the soldier spotted it almost 2,000 years later,” said Dr. According to Nir Distelfeld, inspector in the Northern District’s robbery prevention unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The rare coin was minted in the city of Geva between 158 and 159 CE.

Its obverse bears the head of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, who ruled in 138-161 CE.

The reverse shows the Syrian deity MEN with the legend ‘of the people of Geva Phillipi,’ [civic] year 217.

“This coin joins only eleven such coins from known locations in the National Treasures Department collection,” said Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the Numismatics Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“All the coins were found in northern Israel, from Megiddo and Zippori to Tiberias and Arbel.”

“The coin is one of the municipal coins minted in the city of Geva Philippi, also known as Geva Parashim,” said Dr. Avner Ecker, a researcher in the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University.

“In the Roman period, cities (poleis) were granted the right to mint their own coins.”

“The year marked on the coin is the year when the municipal council was evidently established and its citizens were allowed self-government under the Roman Empire.”

“Geva is an ancient settlement, referred to by Josephus as a town located on the foothills at the edge of the Jezreel Valley,” he said.

“Herod settled his cavalry forces there (hence the name Geva Parashim, ‘City of Horsemen’) and in the Great Revolt, in 66-70 CE, local and Roman forces set out from there to fight Jewish rebels near Bet She’arim.”

“Some believe that Geva is located near Sha’ar Ha-’Amakim, but most scholars identify the site as Tel Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Mishmar Ha-’Emek.”

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This article is based on text provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

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