‘Freedom Coins’ from Jewish revolt against Rome found near Temple Mount

Ancient coins bearing the inscriptions “For the Freedom of Zion” and “For the Redemption of Zion” were discovered at the base of the Temple Mount. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Bronze coins, the last remnants of a four-year Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were found near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The were discovered by Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar during renewed excavations at the Ophel, the area located below the Temple Mount’s southern wall.

The 1.5-cm bronze coins were left behind by Jewish residents who hid in a large cave (7×14 meters) for four years between 66-70 CE, from the beginning of the Roman siege of Jerusalem up until the destruction of the Second Temple and the city of Jerusalem.

While several of the coins date to the early years of the revolt, the majority are from its final year, otherwise known as “Year Four” – 69-70 CE.

Significantly, during the final year, the Hebrew inscription on the coins was changed from “For the Freedom of Zion” to “For the Redemption of Zion,” a shift which reflects the changing mood of the Jewish rebels during this period of horror and famine.

“A discovery like this—ancient coins bearing the words ‘Freedom’ and ‘Redemption’—found right before the Jewish Festival of Freedom—Passover—begins is incredibly moving,” Mazar shared. The seven-day Passover holiday begins this coming Friday night.

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In addition to Hebrew inscriptions, the coins were decorated with Jewish symbols, such as the four biblical plant species – palm, myrtle, citron and willow – and a picture of the goblet that was used in the Temple service.

Mazar said the coins were well preserved, probably because they were in use for such a short time. A similar number of “Year Four” coins were found near Robinson’s Arch, near the Kotel (Western Wall), by Professor Benjamin Mazar, Eilat Mazar’s grandfather.  He conducted the Temple Mount excavations right after Israel’s Six Day War on behalf of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

Many broken pottery vessels, including jars and cooking pots, were also found in the cave.

It is remarkable that this cave was never discovered by subsequent residents of Jerusalem nor used again after the Second Temple period, Mazar noted.  In this way, the cave acts as a genuine time capsule of life in Jerusalem under the siege and during the four-year revolt against the Roman Empire.

These discoveries, dating back to the time of the Great Rebellion, were found in the Ophel Cave directly above a Hasmonean-period layer that was situated at the base of the cave.