Under the Shadow of War
A Byzantine Hoard from Jerusalem
12 Sep 2018
- Curator: Yaniv Schauer
- Holy Land Gallery, Archaeology Wing
The early 7th century CE witnessed a series of clashes between the Byzantine and the Sassanian Persian empires. One of the peaks of this struggle was the conquest of Jerusalem by the Persians in 614. The Persians were assisted by Jewish inhabitants of the city, and they even succeeded in capturing, from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, remains of the True Cross, upon which, according to Christian belief, Jesus was crucified.
The hoard displayed here affords a glimpse into this dramatic moment in history. It was discovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Jerusalem’s Givati Parking Lot, near the Western Wall, in a side room of a large administrative building destroyed by fire. All 264 gold coins in the hoard are identical, having been struck by a single pair of dies, and they are in mint condition, meaning they never circulated. It is possible that due to the Persian siege of Jerusalem, the city’s Byzantine forces did not receive the supplies of coins needed to pay salaries or ransom, and they were thus forced to strike coins from gold in their possession.
The coins in the hoard are unparalleled; none exactly like them have been found anywhere in the world. They were inspired by the imperial coin type struck under the Byzantine emperor Heraclius in Constantinople during the years 610–613; only minor differences separate the two types.
Gold coin of the emperor Heraclius struck in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 611–614 CE
- Jan 16Feb 27Mar 05Mar 19Mar 26Apr 23May 07May 21Jun 11
- Jan 16Feb 06Mar 05Apr 23
- Apr 22
- Jan 09Jan 30Feb 20Mar 19Apr 16
- Jan 07Jan 14Jan 21Jan 28Feb 04Feb 11Feb 18Feb 25Mar 03Mar 17Mar 24Mar 31Apr 07
- Jan 02Feb 13Mar 12Apr 02
- Jan 22Feb 19Apr 01