In excavations on Mount Zion this summer, archaeologists discovered a gold coin with the image of Nero. UNC Charlotte’s press release gives more details:
The discovery of a rare gold coin bearing the image of the Roman Emperor Nero at UNC Charlotte’s archaeological excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem has been announced by the archaeologists in charge of the project Shimon Gibson, James Tabor and Rafael Lewis.
“The coin is exceptional, 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,” said Gibson, an adjunct professor of religious studies at UNC Charlotte.
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 David Jacobson from London.
The coin dates to a little more than a decade before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. and was found in rubble material outside the ruins of the first century Jewish villas the team has been excavating. The team has hypothesized that the large houses may have belonged to wealthy members of the priestly caste, and it may have come from one of their stores of wealth.
The press release includes more information and a photo of the coin. A high-res image of the coin’s obverse is here.
HT: Joseph Lauer