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1800-year-old coin found by soldier offers look at ancient life in Israel

Coin obverse with head of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius


One of its sides reads: “of the people of Geva Phillipi,” [civic] year 217 (158–159 AD) together with the image of the Syrian moon god, Men.

Some 1,800 years ago, a traveler was making his way through the Carmel area and a coin fell from his pocket. Almost two millennia later, the artifact was found by an Israeli soldier during a training exercise, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

“This coin joins only 11 such coins from known locations in the National Treasures Department collection,” said Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the IAA’s Numismatics Department. “All the coins were found in northern Israel, from Megiddo and Tzipori to Tiberias and Arbel.”

“Geva Philippi represented a seam between the Greek or Roman style coastal cities and the Jewish region,” Ecker said.

The settlement of Geva was already mentioned by first-century historian Josephus, a Jewish soldier who eventually defected to Rome and whose works are considered a fundamental source on the Jewish revolt against the Romans and on life in the Land of Israel at the time. The ancient scholar located the town on the foothills at the edge of the Jezreel Valley, not far from the Carmel.

“Josephus reported that Herod the Great settled his cavalry forces there, hence the name Geva Parashim, City of Horsemen,” Ecker said.

“Strategically, it was a good place to establish the cavalry because it granted control on both entrances from the coast to the valley. Moreover, he mentioned that during the Great Revolt, in 66-70 AD, local and Roman forces set out from there to fight Jewish rebels near Bet She’arim.”

The Syrian god MEN (the moon god) surrounded by the legend “of the people of Geva Phillipi”, civic year 217 (158–159 AD). (Nir Distelfeld, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Ido Gardi, the soldier who spotted the coin, received a certificate of appreciation from the IAA for good citizenship.

“This is an opportunity to call on any members of the public who have found coins or any other ancient artifacts to report them to the Israel Antiquities Authority,” said Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the IAA Northern District’s Robbery Prevention Unit.

Ecker said: “Unearthing coins minted in a city or in its periphery allows us to know more about its economy, where its currency was accepted and how far it could travel. So these discoveries are always very important.”

From an article in The Jerusalem Post Read the rest of the article here

I always say that when you tour Israel, wherever you decide to dig, you'll probably find something important. Well, this time this coin was found without even digging, what an important and interesting finding, and we are here to bring it to you.

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