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Tyrian Shekel

The Dead Sea Scrolls

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Front of Tyrian Shekel, Laureate head of Melqarth/Heracles

Front of Tyrian Shekel, Laureate head of Melqarth/Heracles

Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Clara Amit, photographer.
The ruins of Qumran, the archaeological site located nearest the caves and thought by most scholars to be a sectarian settlement of the scrolls' authors, were first excavated in the mid-1940s by a team led by Roland de Vaux. Within one of the rooms, excavator de Vaux discovered a hoard of 561 silver coins which had been stored in three pots. The hoard was almost entirely of Tyrian tetradrachmas, like the one illustrated here. These coins were minted in the Phoenician capital city of Tyre between the years 137/36 and 126/25 BCE. The gentleman illustrated on the face of this coin is the god of the Phoenicians named Melqarth (or Baal), who is related to Hercules or Heracles.

Tyre, today still an important city in what is now southern Lebanon, is an ancient city, established as least as early as the 14th century BC. During its long life Tyre has been ruled by Egypt, Assyria, Phoenicia, Achaemenian Persians, Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucids, and the Mamluks. At the time of the occupation of Qumran, Tyre was ruled by Rome.

Front of Tyrian Shekel, Laureate head of Melqarth/Heracles

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