Antiquities robbers in Enot Shoa (Photo: Israel Police Spokesperson's Office)
The coin of Matityahu Antigonus, one of the last Hasmonean kings, was seized in a joint operation carried out tonight by Jerusalem District Shalem police officers together with inspectors of the Antiquities Authority's Unit for the Prevention of Robbery, and a house in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem was searched pursuant to a court order.
During the search, 21 ancient coins were found in the possession of a suspect, a local resident, about 30 years old, and he was taken for interrogation by the Israel Antiquities Authority on suspicion of robbing antiquities, illegal possession of archaeological items, and attempting to trade in antiquities. The coins were seized as exhibits by the supervisors.
21 ancient coins from different periods were found. The coins seized tonight (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)
It is suspected that the coins were illegally excavated from antiquities sites in the Jerusalem area (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, these are a group of ancient bronze coins from different periods, from the Roman period to the Muslim period, which were allegedly illegally excavated from antiquities sites in the Jerusalem area using metal detectors.
According to Dr. Gabriela Bikhovsky, a coin expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, "This is a coin of the Hasmonean king, Mattathia Antigonus (37-40 BCE). On the obverse of the coin appears a ray of abundance, surrounded by an inscription in ancient Hebrew: Matthias Cohen grew up a member of the... On the back of the coin, a Greek inscription appears inside a wreath: ΒΑCI ANTIΓΟΝΟΥ. Matthias minted bronze coins in three denominations: large, medium and small. The coin seized is of medium denomination, and is rarer than the large denomination, which has a pair of rays of abundance instead of one." Dr. Bikhovsky adds, "The technique of making tokens for coins is unique to this king. The tokens were first made by casting - in a double limestone mold, which forms a thick coin, which looks like two tokens glued together. That's why the token profile is so original and special. After preparing the tokens, mint the impressions with the models on both sides. It is very difficult to find a coin of Antigonus, in which you see the models in their entirety on the surface of the coin. Among the Hasmonean coins, the coins of Mattathia Antigonus are the rarest."
On the coin appears a horn of abundance, surrounded by an inscription in ancient Hebrew: "Matthias Cohen grew up a member of ..."(Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)
"This is a coin of the Hasmonean king, Matthias Antigonus (37-40 BCE)" (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)
The Israel Antiquities Authority says that finding the coin under the circumstances of an archaeological excavation – and not in a suspicious house – could have been much happier. "Tearing the coin out of its archaeological context harms our ability to understand the historical puzzle of all of us," says Eli Escozido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Israel Police will continue to act and assist all law enforcement agencies in locating suspects involved in harming the public in general, and cultural property, including archaeological items of great value.
- Antiquities robbery