Last Sunday, Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery at a site of a revamped highway into Jerusalem, a rare cache of Byzantine-era coins was found. They had lain hidden for some 1,400 years inside the stone walls of an old building in the unearthed village, which archaeologists now believe was called Einbikumakube. It was a Christian village that provided refuge to weary pilgrims making their way into the holy city more than 2,000 years ago.
The excavation is being carried out in the fields of Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, as part of the construction of Highway 200 that was initiated and funded by the Netivei Israel Company.
Rome built many roads to help its military to swiftly patrol the empire.
“The road that we discovered, which 2,000 years ago passed along a route similar to Highway 375 today, was up to 6 meters [20 feet] wide, [and] continued for a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometers [1 mile]”
said Irina Zilberbod, director of the IAA excavation.
Also an assemblage of hundreds of glass bottles from a British army camp from World War I was uncovered.
“[It] was apparently meant to link the Roman settlement that existed in the vicinity of Beit Natif with the main highway known as the ‘Emperor’s Road.'” [See Photos of the Ancient, Roman-Era Road and Coins]
The Israel Antiquities Authority gave journalists an up-close look at the coins on Sunday during a rare tour of its central warehouse, which is tucked away in a quiet industrial zone in the city of Beit Shemesh (Bethsames), about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Jerusalem in Israel‘s Jerusalem District, where the Canaanite sun-goddess Shemesh, who was worshipped there in antiquity.
Tens of thousands of relics found across Israel since its creation in 1948 are kept at the site, though some go on display in museums. Many of the items are from the period that Jesus is believed to have lived or are evidence of his followers from the ensuing centuries.
Archaeologists say they have found lots of things about what happened at the time Jesus lived and that those excavated items might give an indication of how Jesus and his followers lived 2,000 years ago.
Throughout the Byzantine period and during the Crusades, Christian pilgrims regularly travelled to Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Archaeologists are now using the day-to-day items and rare commodities from those ancient times to study Jesus’ life and his teachings.
Among these precious finds are the nine Byzantine coins.
“These coins give us a rare look into this Christian ancient world,”
said archaeologist Annette Landes-Nagar, who estimated that the coins were minted sometime between 604-609 because they bear the faces of Byzantine emperors of the time.
The coins were probably placed in the walls of the building around 614, toward the end of the period when Persian armies invaded the Holy Land, destroying churches and Christian communities, just before the rise of Islam in the area.
“The hoard was found amongst large stones that had collapsed alongside the building. It seems that during a time of danger the owner placed the coins in a cloth purse that he concealed inside a hidden niche in the wall,”
“He probably hoped to go back and collect it, but today we know that he was unable to do so.”