Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe has chosen to bring an ancient Jewish coin when he travels to the International Space Station for Israel’s “Rakia” mission early next year, announced the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The 1,900-year-old coin was minted during the second Jewish revolt against the Romans, also known as the Bar Kochba revolt.

Stibbe first saw the coin when he recently visited the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratory in Jerusalem and was shown various artifacts, the IAA said in a statement on Thursday. The coin was unveiled to the public in March alongside other rare artifacts that were excavated from the “Cave of Horror” in Nahal Hever.

“As part of ‘Rakia’ mission to the International Space Station, I will be taking with me a bag filled with items that have a special meaning to me. It was clear to me that one of these items will be a symbol of Jewish history,” he said.

One side of the coin, which is from the second year of the revolt, shows a palm tree with the inscription “Shim’on,” although only two letters are now visible. The other side of the coin has a vine leaf with the inscription “Year two of the liberty of Israel.”

Stibbe said the coin “represents the connection to the land, the love of the country, and the desire of the population of Israel in those years for independence.”

He added that “the palm tree particularly touched me, as it is the symbol of the Agricultural Research Organization, at Volcani Center, where my father spent his life conducting research on the country’s soil.”


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