X ray analysis of the Coinage of the Galilee from the Life of Jesus Christ
COIN A HEROD ANTIPAS, TIBERIAS MINT 33-34 AD
COIN B HEROD PHILIP 30-31 AD, BETHSAIDA MINT OR CAESAREA PANEAS/PHILIPPI MINT
COIN C HEROD ANTIPAS, TIBERIAS MINT 30-31 AD
COIN D HEROD ANTIPAS, TIBERIAS MINT 20-21 AD
COIN E GADARA MINT, HEAD OF TIBERIUS, exact date uncertain
The above exposures were taken on hospital grade X-ray equipment. X-ray power variations allowed us to grade metallic density of the above coins. The linear mark on the coin of Herod Philip has always been intriguing as to its meaning. This study may help explain what was occurring in the Galilee at the time of Jesus Christ. The first exposure gives us the best examination of coin details among all the specimens. The second exposure(below) raises the power which shows us the relative metallic density comparatively between the coins. Notable observations are as follows. The Coin D is very dense. It is the thickest of all 5 but it appears the alloy itself attenuates the x rays the most at high power. The patina or the coin surfaces may have been modified to be denser than the rest of the coins. Is this a result of normal wear or was it intentional in the minting process? Coins B, C, and E may be made from less dense or softer metal.
These details are important. The Romans would not let the Jews use silver or gold in their coins. Temple coinage was silver minted in Tyre. Bronze ,which is what the above coins are made of, can be melted down into weapons during times of war or rebellion by ancient peoples. This worried the Romans.
One can see a linear mark on the reverse of the above coin. It likely was a device of harder metal, perhaps Roman steel pliers, to check the coin metal to see if it was harder or softer. Bronze swords and spear tips would have been inferior to Roman steel swords and armor in battle. These details would not have escaped the notice of Roman field commanders and soldiers. It also may imply Herod Antipas and Philip may have intentionally with the help of Roman metallurgy experts made their coinage of inferior metal to prevent it being used as weaponry in times of rebellion. There is a clear difference in the coins of 30-31 AD with the quality and metallic density being less than comparable coins from earlier and later years. Even the Antipas coin A is slightly thicker and more dense after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Did Antipas make his coinage of 33-34 AD better in response to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Was there a lesser chance of rebellion?
What is also interesting is when and why did Herod Antipas mint his coins. A solar eclipse occurred when the city of Tiberias was founded along the Sea of Galilee in 20 AD. This marked the first large scale mintage of the coins of Antipas(Coin A). Note both Herod Antipas and Herod Philip were educated in Rome and were more Roman than Jewish. In 29-30 AD Herod Philip renamed Bethsaida to Julias in honor of the mother of Emperor Tiberius. Again this occurred after the solar eclipse of 29 AD. Herod Antipas again minted coins after the "Crucifixion Darkness Event." His final mintage event also corresponded to a solar eclipse event in December of 39 AD. Note Herod Philip died in 34 AD after his mintage cycle of 33-34 AD.
I don't believe it is a coincidence that the Judeo-Roman coinage of the Galilee from the time of Christ is poorly preserved. The metals were inferior. The Romans likely intentionally collaborated with Jewish authorities to keep the metal quality poor to prevent the coins from being made into quick weapons.
COIN PHOTO : ATHENA NUMISMATICS