A gold Roman coin showing the Emperor Nero was found during archaeological diggings carried out on Mt. Zion by archaeologists from the University of North Carolina. It is believed to date back to 56 CE.
One side of the gold piece bears a likeness of Nero facing to the right, with an inscription meaning “Nero, Caesar, Ab Urbe Condita [a counting system dating to the beginning of the Roman Empire], Emperor.”
On the other side is a relief of an oak tree and a number inscription which helped archaeologists date the coin to the year 56 CE.
The coin was found outside the ruins of Jewish homes dating to the first century, which the researchers believe were inhabited by wealthy members of the priestly caste (kohanim). The diggings had uncovered well-preserved rooms of a very large mansion, a Jewish ritual pool (mikveh) and a bathroom, both with their ceilings intact.
“The image of Nero is significant in that it shows the presence of the Roman occupation and provides a clear, late date for the occupation of the residences,” Dr. Shimon Gibson, the architect who led the study, said. “This is the first time that a coin of this kind has turned up in Jerusalem.”
Although Nero is generally viewed in history as corrupt and destructive, according to the Talmud he clandestinely left Rome and converted to Judaism. The Amora Rabbi Meir was among his descendants.