American authorities have returned a rare, 2,000-year-old Jewish coin to Israel nearly two decades after it was looted, smuggled, and put up for auction in the United States, Israel’s antiquities authority has announced. The quarter shekel silver coin, made in the year 69 in defiance of the Romans, is one of just two confirmed to exist. The other has been in the British Museum’s collection for a century. They were minted during the fourth year of the First Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire in the first century A.D.
Officials have spent years searching for the coin, which is thought to have been illegally excavated from an archaeological site in 2002. In 2017, they located and seized the coin from an auction in Denver, where it was valued between $500,000 and $1 million. Now, five years later, officials have confirmed that the coin was looted and cleared it to travel back to where it was minted.
Note: The ancient Jewish coin pictured above is not the coin that was returned.
— Associated Press, Smithsonian Magazine
Quote: While other types of coins struck by Jewish rebels during the revolt are more common, this denomination of small silver coinage is “super rare,” said Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authorities theft prevention unit. Because there are fewer than three known examples, it is legally regarded as an artifact of “national and scientific significance,” he said.
— Associated Press
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