Mar 30, 2021

Exercising Caution in Reading Archaeological News Reports

It was reported here that a Tyrian shekel was found in recent conservation work at the so-called Tower of David. According to the reports, "the ancient coin was found inside a box of artifacts originally excavated in the 1980s." But technically, as my numismatist friend Russell Atherton points out, it is not a Tyrian shekel but a coin of Demetrius (or Demetrios) II, with the portrait of Demetrius not Melqart. This would make it a tetradrachm rather than a shekel. The name "ΔHMHTPIOY" can be seen clearly on the reverse although the date is hard to make out (see the picture below from the article).

In sum, it is a nice coin, but not especially rare and not correctly attributed. This is one example why one needs to exercise care in reading news reports on archeological finds.

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