Contact Me
Home Img

Personal Experience of Digging in Masada(!) (1997)

About a month ago, Guy Stiebel, director of the expedition team digging in Masada invited me to visit the site. Having a rare spare day, I happily accepted his offer and even participated in the dig that day. The group was clearing a storehouse and after an hour’s work, we had barely cleared away 10 cm of rubble, when we exposed a group of objects originally used by the Zealots(!). The Zealots were the people who occupied the site until the Roman siege, which ended with the Zealots committing a mass suicide. Apparently the part of the room in which we were digging was the perfuming corner for one of the female members of the community. The digger next to me found an eye lash stick, a molded clay oil lamp with its edge blackened by use, and parts of some glass object. My locus was not as rich but towards the end of the day, I was fortunate to find a half-shekel (didrachma) silver coin which was minted during the revolt (!). Jewish silver coins are relatively rare and a half-shekel coin is especially rare. In fact it was the first silver half-shekel found in these excavations. Even with out cleaning equipment, I could trace the inscription around the image of the pomegranates on a stem, stating in paleo-Hebrew letters: “Holy Jerusalem”. The wish for the independence “Holy Jerusalem” made by those who minted the coin was not fulfilled in their time. In fact it took the Jews almost 2,000 years to fulfill this wish, and as a citizen of the modern state of Israel, I was very excited to find and read this ancient message.

A drawing of the Silver Shekel minted by the Jews during the Big rebellion against the Romans (66-70 CE)
A drawing of the Silver Shekel minted by the Jews during the Big rebellion against the Romans (66-70 CE)