A rare 2,250-year-old silver coin that would have been one of the earliest coins ever made has been found in Israel.
The coin, which is said to date back to a period when the use of coins had just started, was discovered by Semyon Gendler, the Acting Judean District Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The coin was found broken into two on purpose and was minted with a square stamp embedded into one face.
Dr. Robert Kool, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Numismatic Department. Said in a statement obtained by Newsflash from the Israel Antiquities Authority on 17th January: “The coin is extremely rare, joining only half a dozen coins of its type that have been found in archaeological excavations in the country.
“The coin was minted in a period when the use of coins had just begun.
“The rare find contributes information concerning the way trade was carried out. And the process whereby global commerce moved from payment by weighing silver pieces, to the use of coins.
“The coin belongs to a group of very early coins that were minted outside Israel, in the regions of ancient Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
“In the 6th–5th centuries BCE, such coins began to appear at sites in the Land of Israel.”
According to the archaeologists, the fact that the coin was found intentionally cut into two indicates that in the 4th century BCE. It was used as a weighed piece of silver, rather than as a coin.
Michal Mermelstein and Danny Benayoun, Excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in the statement: “The site was situated in the rural area of the Kingdom of Judah, whose capital was in Jerusalem.
“It was first settled in the First Temple period, in the 7th century BCE (2,700 years ago), during the reigns of the kings of Judah, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon and Josiah, a peak settlement period in the kingdom of Judah.
“A characteristic ‘four-room house’ was uncovered from this period, and the sheqel weight, found on the floor of one of the rooms in the house, provides early evidence for trade.
“The dome-shaped stone weight would have been used for weighing metals, spices, and other expensive commodities. The sign on the weight was an ancient Egyptian (hieratic) abbreviation for the word sheqel. And the single incised stroke represents one sheqel.
“The weight weighs 11.07 g. This was in effect a standard weight in the region of the kingdom of Judah, showing that commodities were carefully weighed in the markets.”
Eli Escusido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said. “It is always surprising how important findings are discovered in unexpected places.
“The tiny coins are a crucial source of information in archaeology. They provide us visual details, inscriptions, and dates. Through a tiny object like a coin, it becomes possible to trace human thought processes and observe that our economic habits have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years – only the technology has changed.
“In this context, it is interesting to consider future archaeological research in a world that has adopted electronic commerce.”
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