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2,000-year-old coins hailing ‘freedom’ of Zion, Jerusalem uncovered in West Bank

Bar-Ilan University archaeologists find Great Revolt coin at Khirbat Jib’it and one from Bar-Kokhba Revolt in nearby cliffs, indicating Jewish presence further north than thought

Top: a coin from around 134-135 CE found in Wadi Rashash. Bottom: a coin from around 67-68 CE found at Khirbat Jib’it. Background: Wadi Rashash in the West Bank. (Tal Rogovsky, Yechezkel Blumstein / courtesy)
Top: a coin from around 134-135 CE found in Wadi Rashash. Bottom: a coin from around 67-68 CE found at Khirbat Jib’it. Background: Wadi Rashash in the West Bank. (Tal Rogovsky, Yechezkel Blumstein / courtesy)

Two rare coins dating back to the Jewish revolts against the Romans were recently discovered by Israeli archaeologists in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

The first coin was discovered on the ground at the Khirbat Jib’it archaeological site, just south of the West Bank town of Duma. It dates back to the Great Revolt, the first Jewish–Roman War in Judea, according to researchers from Bar-Ilan University.

The Khirbat Jib’it coin was minted around 67-68 CE, according to Dr. Dvir Raviv, who led the survey. On one side it bears a vine leaf and the Hebrew inscription Herut Zion (the freedom of Zion). The other side is decorated with an amphora and the inscription “Year Two.”

Just one kilometer north, a second coin was found in a cave on the Wadi Rashash cliffs, dating back to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, the final major war fought between Jews and Romans.

According to Raviv, the second coin was minted around 134-135 CE, and it bears a palm branch, possibly a lulav —  one of the ritual plants used during the Jewish Sukkot holiday — and a wreath surrounded by the inscription LeHerut Yerushalayim (for the freedom of Jerusalem).

The other side of the Wadi Rashash coin is decorated with a musical instrument, likely a lyre according to Raviv, as well as the inscription “Shimon,” the name of the rebel leader, Shimon Ben Kosevah, better known as Bar-Kokhba.

View of the Khirbat Jib’it archeological site in the West Bank. (Yonatan Granit/Courtesy)

Ceramic shards that were brought to the cave by Jewish refugees and rebels during the revolt were also discovered.

The Araq en-Na’asaneh Cave in Wadi a-Daliyeh, some six kilometers south of the Wadi Rashash cave, was previously considered the northernmost refuge cave of the Bar-Kokhba revolt in the Judean Desert.

Archaeologist Dr. Dvir Raviv (courtesy)

“The Bar-Kokhba coin from Wadi Rashash indicates the presence of a Jewish population in the region up to 134/5 CE, in contrast to a previous claim that Jewish settlement in the highlands north of Jerusalem was destroyed during the Great Revolt and not inhabited afterward,” Raviv said.

“This coin is also the first evidence that the Acrabatta region, the northernmost of the districts of Judea during the Roman period, was controlled by the Bar-Kokhba administration.”

The site of the Khirbat Jib’it coin has seen the discovery of ritual baths, hiding complexes, chalkstone vessels and burial caves. All of them belonged to a Jewish settlement that existed at the site until the revolt some 70 years later, according to the archaeologists.

Khirbat Jib’it and Wadi Rashash are located some 30 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem.

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