The Fawer Coin Exhibition

The Coin Exhibition at the Residence of the President of the State of Israel
Made Possible By Estanne And Martin Fawer

A new permanent exhibit entitled Expressions of the Symbols of Government on Jewish Coins was dedicated in the Residence of the President of the State of Israel.

The beautiful new exhibition was created by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the request of the President of the State of Israel, and was made possible by the great generosity of Estanne and Martin Fawer. It is part of the Fawer Archaeological Garden in the President's Residence.

Since their inception, coins have universally borne symbols identifying the despot, dynast, elected official or appointed body. Different designs have been employed to express their claim to rule, the most common one being the ruler's portrait. Coins meant for Jewish populations were generally different in that the Second Commandment forbade the use of graven images. Consequently, on many Jewish coins a variety of symbols representing the minting authority were used. These symbols, wreaths, diadems, royal canopies, helmets and scepters appear on gentile coins, but rarely as central types. On other coins, inscriptions naming the ruler take the place of those symbols-and in fact, inscriptions on Jewish coins are disproportionate in quantity and length. On yet other coins-those minted by Jews but intended for gentile populations-we find portraits of the Jewish kings and their children.

The National Numismatic collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority numbers more than 150,000 coins, representing a period of ca. 2,300 years, from the time of the invention of the coin in the Sixth Century BCE, until the Seventeenth Century CE. The collection comprises primarily of hoards and coins found in excavations, as well as a number of private collections, among them the collection of the famous archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie. There are also more than 150 hoards of gold, silver and bronze coins dating from the Persian to the Ottoman periods. The largest is the 2nd – 3rd century C.E. hoard of silver tetradrachms and dinars from excavations at the Nabatean/Roman site of Mampsis in the Negev. Also represented are Persian and Hellenistic period silver hoards, silver and bronze hoards of Jewish rulers, the whole range of Roman imperial and provincial hoards, and more. The uniqueness of the collection lies in the fact that the provenance of most of the coins is known, in contrast with those that are in the collections of other institutions and museums, providing excellent material for currency studies. This establishes the coin collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority as one of the largest and most credible data banks in the world, and a special scientific resource for scholars dealing in the distribution and circulation patterns of coins in our region.

Please click here for additional information and images about the coin exhibition.

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