Amar believes the coin was minted during the Great Jewish Revolt sometime during the years 66-70 CE.
“I recognized that it may be a genuine ancient coin,” said father Shimon, a lawyer.
But lacking the proper education to confirm it, he took a picture on his cell phone and sent it to the wife of a local scholar, Bar-Ilan University Prof. Amar, a historian of ancient Land of Israel flora and fauna, had actually written an essay on the wine presses in the nearby archaeological site, Chubalta, near which the coin was found.
A comparison with examples of half-shekel coins found in the book, “A Treasury of Jewish Coins” by renowned expert Yaakov Meshorer, indicates that the coin is not from the first year of the Revolt because the words “Holy Jerusalem” are written in “full form” — with the letters “yud” and “vav.” No such spelling has been found on any coins from 66 CE; it has been found on coins from the following years of the revolt.
Interestingly, the use of such First Temple period lettering — known during the Second Temple period, but not typical of it — is thought to have been intentional, to raise nostalgic feelings for the earlier Jewish monarchy.
Amar was intrigued by what he saw and asked Shimon to bring the coin to his house so he and his wife, Tamar, who is also knowledgable on such subjects, could study it.
At first glance, the Amar couple thought it was a rare full shekel coin, minted by Jews during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans prior to the destruction of the Second Temple. The couple compared it to several examples of shekels, but decided to test its authenticity by weighing it.
Three days after the story below was published, The Times of Israel was contacted by Dr.
Haim Gitler, chief curator of Archaeology and the curator of Numismatics at the Israel Museum.
Disappointed, they found that it wasn’t the expected 14 grams, rather exactly half of it.