Daily Israel Report

Bar-Kochba Era Treasure Hoard Discovered

Archaeological excavation near Kiryat Gat yields coins and exquisite jewelry probably stowed away by wealthy woman.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/5/2012, 10:31 AM

1880-year-old ring.
1880-year-old ring.
Clara Amit, courtesy IAA

Archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove comprising about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry, probably hidden by a wealthy lady at a time of impending danger during the Bar Kokhba Revolt some 1880 years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) presented the sumptuous find Tuesday and said it was recently exposed in a salvage excavation in the vicinity of Kiryat Gat, in southern Israel.

The rooms of a building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period were exposed during the course of the excavation. Archeologists discerned that a pit had been dug in the earth of the ancient building’s courtyard and then refilled. To the archaeologists' delightful surprise, a spectacular treasure trove of exquisite quality was discovered in the pit. It had been wrapped in a cloth fabric that had mostly deteriorated.

According to archaeologist Emil Aladjem, who directed the excavation on behalf of the IAA, “The magnificent hoard includes gold jewelry, among them an earring crafted by a jeweler in the shape of a flower and a ring with a precious stone on which there is a seal of a winged-goddess, two sticks of silver that were probably kohl sticks, as well as some 140 gold and silver coins."

"The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan, who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 CE.  The coins are adorned with the images of the emperors and on their reverse are cultic portrayals of the emperor, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand."

Sa'ar Ganor, District Archaeologist of Ashkelon and the Western Negev for the IAA, added that “the composition of the numismatic artifacts and their quality are consistent with treasure troves that were previously attributed to the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. During the uprising, between 132-135 CE, the Jews under Roman rule would re-strike coins of the emperor Trajan with symbols of the revolt."

"This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it."

The treasure trove was removed from the field and transferred for treatment to the laboratories of the Artifacts Treatment Department of the IAA in Jerusalem.

The excavation was funded by Y. S. Gat Ltd., the Economic Development Corporation for the Management of the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park.

Photos by Clara Amit and Sharon Gal, courtesy IAA.



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