New Exhibitions

imageTwo unique exhibitions will open next week at the Davidson Center in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. For the first time, the public will be able to see the different kinds of coins that were uncovered in excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount. In addition, a beautiful, rare fragment of a large sarcophagus lid will be exhibited for the first time since its discovery in excavations north of Jerusalem nearly two years ago. The lid is engraved with an inscription in square script that is characteristic of the Second Temple period. These exhibitions are made possible by the William Davidson Foundation and Estanne Fawer. The Davidson Center, with its new Karen Davidson Galleries, is a leading venue for exhibitions of recently discovered archaeological objects from the Jerusalem area. And after nearly a year on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exceptional 6th century CE Gold Glass Table from Caesarea is on display at the Römisch – Germanisches Museum in Cologne, Germany, the leading museum in Europe for the exhibition of Ancient Roman Glass.

imageThe coin exhibition is comprised of three separate exhibits: Jerusalem – An International Center as Seen from the Coins, A Burning Testimony and Expressions of Government on Jewish Coinage. On display are coins and coin hoards which were uncovered in the numerous excavations in the area of the Temple Mount, and provide a living tangible testimony of Jerusalem’s rich history and it being a focus of pilgrimage for thousands of years. The display includes a rare collection of 2,000 year old coins that were burnt during the Great Revolt, unique coins that were minted in Jerusalem during this period, as well as coins that were found in different excavations in the region and have a wide geographic provenance (from Persia, via North Africa and as far France), a fact that attests to the centrality of Jerusalem. Another focus of the exhibition is on the difference between the Jewish coins and the pagan ones. Contrary to non-Jewish coins, the image of the ruler was usually not depicted on Jewish coins due to the Jewish abstention from portraying images (“You shall not make for yourself a graven image or likeness of anything…”). For that reason, a variety of inanimate symbols, such as a wreath, scepter and helmet, appear on many Jewish coins.

Two deposits of bronze coins from the Jewish War were discovered in 1975 during archaeological excavations at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, under the direction of the late Prof. Benjamin Mazar. The coins were found on a commercial street from the Herodian period. Both deposits consist mostly of coins struck by the rebels during the fourth year of the revolt, 69 CE. The revolt that lasted more than four years, ended in 70 CE when the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were completely destroyed by conflagration. The coins are significant due to their symbols, which are related to the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot-a pilgrimage festival. The inscription for the redemption of Zion expresses the hope for divine salvation at a stage

imageThe Second Temple period fragment of a large sarcophagus lid is displayed to the public for the first time. It was found in IAA excavations north of Jerusalem and is engraved with an inscription in square script that is characteristic of the Second Temple period. The lid is meticulously fashioned and the carved inscription on it reads: “…Ben HaCohen HaGadol…” (Son of the High Priest). Numerous high priests served in the temple during the latter part of the Second Temple period and there is no way of knowing which of the high priests the inscription refers to. However, it should probably be identified with one of the priests who officiated between the years 30 and 70 CE. Among the high priests from the end of the Second Temple period are Caiaphas the priest, Theophilus (Yedidiya), Ben Hanan, Simon Ben Boethus, Hanan Ben Hanan. The excavations were conducted by the Unit of the Archaeological Staff Officer of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, under the direction of Naftali Aizik and Benyamin Hareven, within the framework of the salvage excavations along the separation fence that were conducted with funding provided by the Ministry of Defense. "This is the first time that we have been able to locate a manor house of the High Priest of Judea from the time of the First Century, during the time of the Jewish rebellion," said IAA’s archaeologist Har-Even. "We found a huge settlement from the Second Temple Period, in which there are a lot of burial caves that were probably used by the family of the High Priest."

The Byzantine period Gold Glass Table from Caesarea, made between 500–700 CE, is now exhibited at the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne, Germany, after being exhibited for nearly a year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Table is exhibited in the center of the exceptional Roman Glass collection of the museum, and the opening ceremony was attended by several hundred guests from Cologne.

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