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    Shekel Of Year 5

    JUDAEA. The Jewish War (AD 66-70). AR shekel (23mm, 13.12 gm, 11h). NGC XF 4/5 - 3/5. Jerusalem or Masada, dated Year 5 (April-August AD 70). Paleo-Hebrew Shekel of Israel around Year 5 above ritual chalice with pearled rim, the base raised by projections on ends / Paleo-Hebrew Jerusalem the Holy around staff with three pomegranate buds, round base. Hendin 1370. TJC 215. AJC 263, 31. MCP dies 01/R1 (10 examples cited). Very rare! Struck on an irregular planchet, reverse flan flaw, otherwise a pleasing example of this poignant piece of history.

    The year 5 shekel ranks as likely the most storied coin in the Judaean series. Silver shekels dated to the fifth year were struck in the four months between the start of the Jewish New Year (April) and the fall of the city to the legions of Titus in July-August of the same year. Supplies of precious metal had already dwindled, as evidenced by the relative rarity of shekels and fractions struck in Year 4, so by this time the mintage of a token number must have been more an act of defiance than aimed at sustaining a true circulating coinage. It is probable that large numbers of these just-struck coins were melted down and the bullion carried back to Rome as part of the booty, which would eventually finance the Colosseum as well as other building projects. There were several year 5 shekels among the coins excavated at Masada, raising the possibility that the dies formally employed at the Great Temple may have been smuggled out of the city and that at least some of the coins might have been struck at that remote mountain-top fortress. These coins continued in use until Masada fell to the Roman legions in AD 73 and the last defenders committed ritual suicide, an act of defiance that is still celebrated in Israel today. 


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