The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Archaeology   Thematic CollectionsCoins in Context  
Coins in Context
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From the time they were introduced some 2,600 years ago, coins have been an integral part of daily life. Prior to this, people weighed out metal on scales in order to pay for goods. However with the introduction of coins, standardized pieces of metal of fixed denominations and weights were used instead. This innovation first appeared around 630 BCE in western Asia Minor (Turkey), in the ancient kingdom of Lydia, and was rapidly adopted throughout the Greek world. Inhabitants of our region began using coins in the mid-5th century BCE.

Though small in size, coins are nevertheless important historical documents, providing direct, tangible evidence for events and individuals otherwise known only from ancient literary sources or not known at all. Deciphering the language of coins enables us to retrace the development
of cities and states and uncover the aims and aspirations of rulers. The designs and inscriptions provide a wealth of information about the societies that minted the coins, their religions, and their cultures.

The Coins in Context exhibition begins with the modern coins of the State of Israel – ordinary coins we carry around in our pockets, but which bear strong links to the past.

Collections online
See the department curators on the senior staff list.