EDMOND—News of Dr. Eilat Mazar’s latest archaeological discovery hit the front pages of Israeli news websites after she announced it in a Hebrew University press release on March 26. Stories about the coins appeared on the front pages of the Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, Jewish Press, the Times of Israel and mfa.gov.il. The discovery was also the lead story of the March 27 Jerusalem Post print edition.
Some of the websites included a KeytoDavidsCity.com video produced for Dr. Mazar by Herbert W. Armstrong College and a photo of Armstrong student Kassandra Verbout, who is assisting with the excavation, as she held one of the coins.
Since 2006, Herbert W. Armstrong College has provided Dr. Mazar with 56 student and graduate assistants over seven excavation seasons in the City of David and the Ophel. The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation has also provided funding, including full sponsorship for the current Ophel excavation, which began in January and ended March 29.
Dr. Mazar’s early 2018 excavation in the Ophel has unearthed rare Jewish coins, which were minted a.d. 66–70 during the First Jewish Revolt as Jews in Jerusalem attempted to overthrow the rule the Roman Empire. Several coins from the earlier years in the revolt bear the inscription, “For the liberation of Zion.” Coins from the last year of the revolt, when the rebellion became increasingly weak and Roman legions prepared to storm the city, bear the inscription, “For the redemption of Zion.” The city fell to Roman forces in a.d. 70; hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed, and the temple was destroyed by fire.
Jews sought refuge from Roman invaders in a cave formerly used as a cistern on the Ophel. They left behind artifacts, including the coins, which were left undisturbed for more than 1,950 years.
Herbert W. Armstrong College students and graduates have assisted Dr. Mazar in uncovering more of King David’s palace (2006); excavating and identifying Nehemiah’s wall (2007); discovering the Gedaliah bulla (2007–2008); excavating and identifying King Solomon’s wall, discovering the Hezekiah bulla and the Isaiah bulla (2009–2010), further excavating the Ophel down to the first temple period (2012–2013); excavating a cave on the Ophel (2013); and further excavating the cave and other areas on the Ophel (2018).
In 2005, Dr. Mazar uncovered and identified King David’s palace and found the Jehucal bulla. In 2013, she discovered the “Ophel treasure,” a horde of 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry and a gold medallion etched with a menorah from the seventh century a.d.
Links: The Ophel Excavation (Early 2018)
Coverage of the early 2018 Ophel excavation:
Coverage of the Isaiah bulla announcement, released on February 23 during the Ophel excavation: