Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A COIN FIND at the Ramat Rachel excavation:
J'lem Dig turns up gold coins from end of Second Temple period
By Ofri Ilani (Haaretz)
Tags: archeology, second temple

In ancient times, the inhabitants of the Land of Israel and its environs would raise pigeons in underground caves. Called "columbariums," the caves had small niches, in which the birds laid their eggs. Over the years many columbariums have been unearthed at ancient sites around the country, particularly at those containing finds from the Second Temple period. A few days ago, archaeologists made a most surprising find at the bottom of such a columbarium, at a site at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel near Jerusalem - a hoard of coins from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.).

Late in July, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University identified, beneath the floor of the columbarium, a ceramic cooking pot from the 1st century C.E. that held 15 large gold coins. "It's very special to find a hoard like this, and it's very exciting," related the director of the excavations at the site, Dr. Oded Lipschits, of TAU. "We discovered the hoard with a metal detector, and then we went down into the niche and found this small cooking pot inside it."

The article also mentions the find of Byzantine coins noted earlier on PaleoJudaica. Follow the link for the Ramat Rachel excavation blog.

Also, reader Brent Neely points out that the article seems to have confused the Babylonian Exile of Judah with the earlier (8th century BCE) Assyrian exile of Israel:
Lipschits believes that the palace was built during the period of the Assyrian subjugation. "This entire complex is, in my opinion, an administrative center for the occupying regime, a place where agricultural produce was collected, for delivery as a tax to the Assyrians."

During the period of the return to Zion (beginning 539 B.C.E.), the Assyrian regime was replaced by a Persian one, but the administrative center continued to operate. ...
UPDATE (6 August): Todd Bolen thinks the journalist got it right.