Rare coin discovered in Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 2,200-year-old coin discovered near Israel’s border with Lebanon is the heaviest gold coin ever found in Israel.

The coin was discovered in late June at the Tel Kedesh archeological dig site near the border with Lebanon by a team of American archeologists, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Thursday. The archeologists were from the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota.

At one ounce, the coin weighs six times more than previous coins found from the same era. It bears the name and image of the wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoe II Philadelphus.

“This extraordinary coin was apparently not in popular or commercial use, but had a symbolic function," said Donald Ariel, head of the Coin Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A cult was established in honor of the queen, who was the sister of the king. The coin was minted 80 years after her death.

Ariel said the image on the coin also could be that of Cleopatra I, who married Ptolemy V.

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