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History of Ancient Coins
Ancient coins are fascinating to coin collectors because they were created during a time when coinage was just beginning to be used as currency for trading goods. The fascination with these coins is amplified by their Biblical significance.
As merchants began to assign standard values to goods, precious metals became the best form of payment. Copper and electrum (a combination of gold and silver) were quickly considered valuable. Metal ingots were one of the earliest forms of payment, and the shekel became the standard weight for metal.
Biblical Coins: An Introduction
Biblical coins are highly sought after due to their rich history and religious ties. Bronze examples of these pieces, such as Widow's Mites, are readily available, but some silver pieces are also available for coin collectors.
Many of these coins that fall into this category are mentioned in the Bible. In fact, many of these coins were produced during the life of Jesus. For example, the popular Widow's Mite was struck between 135-37 B.C., which indicates that these coins were circulating during the life of Jesus. Another popular coin is the Shekel of Tyre. Any coins struck in Judea also fall into this category of ancient coins.
Rare Ancient Coins From Biblical Times
There is a small number of ancient coins mentioned in the gospel. These coins came from Rome and Jerusalem alike.
When it comes to the New Testament, it’s likely that Jesus handled several types of gold, silver, and bronze coins as he traveled the Holy Land.
However, only a few specific Biblical coins were linked to Jesus in the New Testament:
Jewish Hasmonean lepton
Mark 12:41-44 sees Jesus Christ teaching a lesson of the Widow’s Mite that refers to a coin known as a lepton. This coin featured the likeness of Alexander Jannaeus and was the smallest and least valuable coin circulating in Judea at the time. In the scripture, Jesus watches as a poor widow gives two small copper coins to the treasury.
The Roman silver denarius minted by Emperor Tiberius is considered to be the coin mentioned in the story of the Roman Tax (Mark 12:14-17). Dubbed the “Tribute Penny,” the coin was shown to Jesus as he made his famous speech about whether it was lawful to pay Caesar Augustus's taxes.
The only coins mentioned in the Old Testament were the renowned Phoenician or Tyrian shekels. These ancient silver coins were minted in the city of Tyre. They came in two denominations: full shekel (14g) and half shekel (8g).
The New Testament mentions the half shekel in Matthew’s passages on temple taxes (Matthew 17:24-27). This is the infamous story of Peter finding a coin for tax payment in a fish’s mouth.
Ancient Roman Coins
Denarius was the standard silver coin of the Roman Empire, which depicted an emperor wearing a laurel wreath. It was first issued around 211 B.C. and disappeared from circulation around A.D. 238-244.
More Ancient Coins To Know
In addition to coins directly linked to Biblical history, there are several more ancient silver and gold coins worth knowing about:
The Tyre Silver Shekel — Greek Coin
The Persian Daric
The Judean Herod the Great Prutah
The Byzantine Solidus Justin Coin
The Indo-Scythian Tetradrachm Azes
The Pontius Pilate Bronze Coin
Coins of the Bible To Add to Your Collection
Many collectors buy ancient coins for religious purposes or for their rich history. Due to their age, many Biblical coins are crude and worn. This makes finding high-grade examples very difficult, but Bullion Shark makes it easy and affordable to purchase Biblical coins.
Bullion Shark is your trusted source for ancient coins of the Bible. We only offer the highest quality products from a wide variety of sources, so you know you’re getting a worthwhile coin.