Silver half-shekel coin with tripe-pomegranate cluster motive

Giving our Half-Shekel

It's that time of year for giving the traditional charity reminiscent of the half-shekel donation to the Temple. Here's a little calculation of how serious that seemingly simple donation actually was! And some ideas for how to make your own half-shekel donation meaningful.

Adopt a Coin!

When ancient coins are found in archaeological digs, it is usually impossible to identify their design elements or inscriptions, due to the accumulation over time of corrosion or encrustation. Therefore, these coins must be sent to a restoration…

Find & Finder of the Month: A Three-Weeks Coin Found by Matanya Hacohen

Like the rest of the world, we are still struggling with realities imposed on us by COVID-19, but we have been able to resume semi-normal activities at the sifting site, and together with them we are happy to resume our Find of the Month posts! Our…

Portfolio Items


5 Para of Mehmed V (1911/12 CE)

A Copper-Nickel 5 Para coin of Mehmed V Mehmed V was made sultan in 1909, after the deposition of his brother, Abdul Hamid II, his reign saw the death throes of the Ottoman Empire, as more and more of its former glory was taken up by world powers. In a final disastrous move, Mehmed joined in WWI, though he passed away before seeing the defeat of his chosen side. Obverse: Mehmed V’s Tughra (official monograph) surrounded by stars, to right: رشاد (reshad) beneath : سنة ٢ (year 2) Reverse: Center : ٥ باره Legend around: ضرب في دولت عثمانيه قسطنطينية In exergue: ١٣٢٧ (Ottoman State, Struck in Constantinople, 5 Para, 1327). Date: 1911/191

Napoleonic 5 Francs (1858 CE)

A gold 5 Francs coin of Napoleon III, minted in Paris. Napoleon III, nephew of the famous Napoleon Bonaparte, declared himself emperor in the year 1851. At a time of a great depreciation of Ottoman currency, foreign coins became more and more preeminent in Jerusalem’s markets, and many 19th century works quote prices in gold “Napoleons”. This particular coin, after removal from circulation, was perforated and incorporated into a piece of jewelry. Obverse: Bearded head of Napoleon, surrounded by legend: “NAPOLEON III EMPEREUR”. The surname of the chief engraver of the Paris mint, Albert Désiré Barre, is seen at the bottom. Reverse: “5 FRANCS 1858” within wreath, surrounded by legend: “EMPIRE FRANÇAIS” Date: 1858

Silver Akce Bayezid II (1481/1512 CE)

A silver Akçe of Bayezid II, minted in Bursa (Turkey). Bayezid II, famous for opening the gates of his empire to the Jews expelled from Spain and who taunted Ferdinand and Isabella for impoverishing their empire only to enrich his, also strengthened the Ottoman army by introducing firearms and building a sizable navy, enabling his successor to conquer the Mamluk sultanate, and the Temple Mount with it. Obverse: سلطان بازيد \ بن محمد حان\ عز نصرة (Sultan Bayezid ibn Han Muhammad) Reverse: حلد ملكه\ برو سه\ ٨٨٦ Date: 1481–1512

Silver Nisf (1468/96 CE)

A silver Nisf of Al-Ashraf Qai’tbāy Abū al-Nasr, remembered for his construction project throughout the Sultanate, including the Qai’tbāy Fountain and Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya on the Temple Mount; minted in Aleppo. Obverse: center — قا يتباى; surrounding — السلطان الملك الاشرف ابو النصر (Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr) Reverse: لا اله الا \ الله محمد \ رسول الله (There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) Date: 1468–1496

Counterfeit Zahiri Dinar (1438/53 CE)

A counterfeit Zāhiri dinar of the Bujri Mamluk Sultan Al-Zāhir Jaqmaq Abū Sa‛īd, minted in Cairo. While the original would have been solid gold, this coin is gold-plated copper. Obverse: بالقاهرة \ السلطان الملك الظاهر \ ابو سعيد جقمق عز نصره\ [—] (In Cairo \ Sultan Al-apparent King \ Abu Saeed Jagmaq Ezz Nasr) Reverse: ارسله \ لااله الاالله \محمد رسول الله \ بالهدى Date: 1438–1453

Crusader Lead Token (12-14th Century)

Tokens such as these were used in 12th–13th centuries Europe as a cheap substitute for bronze, silver, and gold, at a time when growing commerce created an ever rising need for coins. Muslims of the time had no use for such a token, ergo — this token was probably dropped by a member of the Crusader state, perhaps one of the Knights Templar who made their home in the Temple Mount itself.

Denier of Baldwin III (1160 CE)

A billon (silver alloy) Denier of Baldwin III, minted in Jerusalem, the capital of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Obverse: A cross surrounded by the Latin legend “BALDVINVS REX” Reverse: The Jerusalem Citadel (Tower of David), surrounded by the Latin legend “DE IERUSALEM”

Quarter Dinar (1020 CE)

A gold Quarter Dinar, minted in Sicily under Al-Mansūr al-Hakim, the Fatimid Caliph who declared himself a prophet, founding the Druze religion in 1017. Al-Mansūr was infamous for the persecution of Jews and Christians under his rule, until his mysterious disappearance in 1021. Obverse: Center Arabic inscription — al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh, Commander of the Faithful; Surrounding — In the name of Allāh, this coin was struck in Siciliy in the (Hijri) year three hundred and ninety five. Reverse: Center Arabic inscription — Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh and Ali is the friend of Allāh; Surrounding — There is no god but Allāh, He has no partner with him, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh and Ali is the friend of Allāh

Constantinian Dynasty (330/335 CE)

A bronze coin minted in Thessalonica, during the early days of the Constantinian dynasty. Obverse: A helmeted warrior with spear, representing the spirit of Constantinopolis Reverse: The goddess of victory posing on a ship’s prow Date: 330–335 CE