The history of the Land of Israel comes alive in The Kadman Numismatic Pavilion, where the evolution of coinage takes you from the days before coins were used in the 6th century BCE until today. One of Israel's largest and most important coin collections, it was founded in 1962 by the initiative of Leo Kadman, whose collection, together with that of Dr. Walter Moses, formed the core of this dazzling, multifaceted exhibit.
Before the Coin
In ancient tribal societies highly developed barter systems were in use before the introduction of coins. Various objects that served as means of payment prior to the development of coinage are displayed here, including terms of barter trades and metals weighed on scales.
The Beginning: Greek Coins
Commerce was revolutionized with the invention of coins in the 6th century BCE in Lydia (Asia Minor), taking the Greek world by storm. This section features coins from the 6th century through the 1st century BCE, including those of the Persian kings who successively governed the Land of Israel - Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. The Greek coins are extaordinary in their superb artistry, which reached its peak in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The design of the "owl" -- the Athenian silver tetradrachm -- was widely recognized as a guarantee of quality, and became the most important coin in the region.
From the Persian period through the war of Bar Kochba, the Jews of the 4th through 2nd BCE minted and used coins for commerce in the Land of Israel. The earliest Judean coins bear the legend Yehud, the Persian name for Judea. The Hasmonean kings were the first Jewish rulers to strike autonomous coins; Mattathias Antigonus, the last of these rulers, was the only one to mint one depicting the seven-branched menorah from the Temple in Jerusalem. The first portraits of Jewish kings appeared on coins of the later Herodian dynasty. The most remarkable coins of the period are undoubtedly the silver shekels and half-shekels from the Jewish War against Rome (66-70 BCE). Featured also are the coins of Judea's Roman procurators, and the "Judea Capta" series, issued by the Roman authorities after the destruction of the Temple. The coins of the Bar-Kokhba war mark the end of Jewish coinage in ancient times.
Under Foreign Rule
Thirty-seven cities in the Land of Israel and the Decapolis had the right to mint their own coins during the Roman Empire, whose influence was the greatest of all the occupiers of the Land of Israel. Among them was "Aelia Capitolina," the Roman name for Jerusalem. With the rise of Christianity, and its acceptance by Constantine early in the 4th century, the cross and other Christian symbols replaced the pagan motifs on Roman coinage. The Byzantines introduced the first currency that systematically denoted the denominations. After the Arab conquest, non-Islamic motifs were purged from the coins. The Crusaders coins on display were based on those minted in their home countries.
From Medieval Times until Today
The Muslims re-conquered the Land of Israel following the defeat of the Crusaders by Baybars, and their rule extended through the beginning of the 20th century. The exhibit shows the Turkish and European money that had become the means of exchange for the local population by the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the tokens issued by the early Zionist communities that Jews used to conduct their internal business. Egyptian currency was used in Palestine from 1917 until 1927, when the British Mandatory Government began to issue its own. The coins minted with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, seen here, borrowed many of their emblems from their historic predecessors, a visible expression of the living bond between the new nation and its ancient heritage.