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Denver Homeland Security agent rescues ancient coin


An extremely rare Judean quarter-shekel coin, minted by Jewish rebels fighting the Roman empire some 2,000 years ago, was returned to the State of Israel in an official ceremony in New York, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The two faces of the Year Four Quarter Shekel, minted in 69 CE during the ill-fated Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire. (IAA)

The coin had been smuggled out of Israel and then rescued in Denver years later.

The coin, known as the Year Four Quarter Shekel, is one of only two such coins from “The Great Jewish Revolt” known to exist, and is valued at more than $1 million.

Minted in 69 CE, it marks the fourth year of the First Jewish-Roman War, which raged from 66 to 73 CE. The Holy Temple was destroyed in 70.

The minting of silver coins by the leaders of the Jewish revolt was a declaration of independence by the Jews in the land of Israel, and a proclamation against the vast empire that they faced.

The coin was returned in a ceremony attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, IAA Director General Eli Eskozido, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Assaf Zamir, and Homeland Security

Investigations New York Acting Special Agent in Charge, Ricky J. Patel.

“This singular artifact is a stark reminder of the Jewish people’s millennia-old connection to the land of Israel,” said Erdan, according to a statement from the Manhattan DA’s office.

“We thank the IAA, Homeland Security and the DA’s office for restoring this priceless coin to its rightful home.

“This event is especially important to me because the Palestinians are working at the UN to hide the history of our people and erase our connection to the Land of Israel.

“But no matter how many lies are spread, the truth cannot be erased, and the truth is laid out here this evening for all to see.

“This coin is evidence of the eternal bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, I can also utilize it in my mission to fight the lies of our enemies.”

Here is the recent history of the coin: 
 “In 2002 the IAA learned that the coin had been looted from Israel’s Ella Valley, and spent the next two decades tracking it down, according to the Manhattan DA’s office. The coin was eventually smuggled out of Israel through Jordan and into the UK, where false papers were prepared to export it to the US. It was offered for sale in an auction scheduled for 2017.

The coin was seized at this point by Homeland Security Denver, and the investigation was taken over by the Manhattan DA’s antiquities trafficking unit in 2022.

The investigation, which lasted several months, involved informants in five different countries.

Col. Matthew Bogdanos of the DA’s office said, “Today’s repatriation to Israel of this extraordinary coin represents a cherished piece of history finally going home. But it also represents an equally extraordinary partnership between New York’s antiquities trafficking unit and the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

“It is a partnership that should be used as a model in recovering pillaged cultural heritage around the world.”

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