Discovery believed to be Second Temple coin reportedly is Israel Museum souvenir


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A coin found by an 8-year-old girl that was believed to be a rare artifact from the Second Temple period   is in actuality a souvenir from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel reported that it was alerted Sunday morning that the half-shekel coin found near an archaeological site in the West Bank settlement of Halamish was created on a small mint in the Youth Wing of the museum, an annual project for children during yearly Hanukkah activities at the museum.

One side of the coin is left blank so that it will not be mistaken for a real coin, according to the report.

Dr. Haim Gitler, chief curator of archaeology and the curator of numismatics at the Israel Museum, called The Times of Israel to inform it of the mistake, the news website reported.

“There is no chance that it is authentic, it is not an ancient coin. Even to call it a coin is to exaggerate what it is,” Gitler told The Times of Israel, adding that the markings on the “artifact” discovered by the girl are 100 percent identical to the mold at the museum. “Whether it was 2016 or 2015, that’s more the question.”

The Israeli and international media, including JTA, reported last week on the find by the girl, Hallel Halevy, in May. The coin dates from a time when it was used to pay a yearly Temple tax, in a custom described in the Torah in Exodus 30:11-16.

The archaeological unit of the army’s Civil Administration unit, or COGAT, is in possession of the coin. Its authenticity or lack of authenticity must still be officially verified, according to The Times of Israel report.

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