The coin is exceptional," said Gibson, "because this is the first time that a coin of this kind has turned up in Jerusalem in a scientific dig. Coins of this type are usually only found in private collections, where we don't have clear evidence as to place of origin."The gold coin (aureus) bears the bare-headed portrait of the young Nero as Caesar. The lettering around the edge of the coin reads: NERO CAESAR AVG IMP. On the reverse of the coin is a depiction of an oak wreath containing the letters "EX S C," with the surrounding inscription "PONTIF MAX TR P III." Importantly, these inscriptions help to work out the date when the coin was struck as 56/57 AD. Identification of the coin was made by the historian and numismatist, Dr. David Jacobson from London.
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Israel - Jerusalem - Mount Zion. (CC BY 2.0)
"The coin probably came from one of the rich 2000-year old Jewish dwellings which the UNC Charlotte team have been uncovering at the site," said Gibson. "These belonged to the priestly and aristocratic quarter located in the Upper City of Jerusalem. Finds include the well-preserved rooms of a very large mansion, a Jewish ritual pool (mikveh) and a bathroom, both with their ceilings intact."This mansion and other like it, were utterly destroyed by Titus and the Roman legions, when Jerusalem was razed to the ground. It is likely, owing to the intrinsic value of the gold coin, it was hidden away ahead of the destruction of the city, and was missed by the marauding and looting Roman soldiers.
"It's a valuable piece of personal property and wouldn't have been cast away like rubbish or casually dropped. It's conceivable that it ended up outside these structures in the chaos that happened as this area was destroyed."
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A plaster bust of Nero, Pushkin Museum, Moscow. (CC BY-SA 3.0)The archaeological project has brought to light many other significant finds during the 2016 summer season, and work at the site will be resumed next year.
Top image: A Roman gold coin depicting the Emperor Nero, dated to 56 CE was discovered in summer, 2016 at UNC Charlotte's archaeological excavation at Jerusalem's Mt. Zion. Credit: Shimon Gibson
The article ‘Rare Roman gold coin found in Jerusalem at Mt. Zion archaeological dig’ was originally published on Science Daily.
Source: University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "Rare Roman gold coin found in Jerusalem at Mt. Zion archaeological dig." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160913150507.htm