On Hanukkah, Israeli high school students discover Hasmonean-era coins

Israeli students Almog Simoni (left) and Amit Omer, who found the ancient Hasmonean-era coins during Hanukkah. Credit: Noam Revkin-Fenton.

(JNS.org) A team of students from Israel’s Handasaim Herzliya High School found three coins from the historic Hanukkah-era Hasmonean dynasty while on an archaeological dig. The coins were minted during the rule of King Alexander Jannaeus in the 1st century BCE.

“The students’ excitement was contagious,” said archaeologist Dr. Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which organized the excavation of the ruins at Adulam Park. “It’s very nice to see their enthusiasm as they connect with the past and with the fascinating world of archeology for the first time.”

Almog Simoni, one of the students who found the coins, told Israel Hayom, “They told us we found something important. We were in shock—complete shock. Everyone was really happy, and the archaeologists were surprised as well.”

Student Amit Omer, who also helped find the coins, added that “there was an image of the sun on one of them. They told us that these coins were made about 100 BCE and that they were used for about 200 years, after Alexander Jannaeus’s rule, which makes them very important.”

Dr. Donald Ariel, head of the IAA’s Coin Department, said, “It’s interesting to note that Alexander’s Hasmonean coins were used by residents of Israel even after his death, for about 200 years, until the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. This shows that the economy at [Alexander’s] time was developed and that his rule was very strong.”

Posted on December 10, 2015 .