The press releases indicate that 17 bronze coins were found scattered at the same depth under an ancient support structure. This from the JPost article:
excavators found 17 identifiable bronze coins. Dr. Donald Ariel of Antique Authority coins treasury, stated that the most recent coins were stamped by the Roman governor Valerius Gratus in 17/18 AD.They have not included pictures of all of the 17 coins, but have stated that 4 of them are of Roman issue with dates of issue of 17-18 AD. Here is a picture of 2 of the coins that are not of Roman issue as there are no images of human beings in them, instead we see a palm tree or something.
scriptures refer to this smallest of Israelite denomination here:
Mat 10:29 "Are not two sparrows selling for a penny? And not one of them will be falling on the earth without your Father."The Greek word used here for "penny" is "assario" or "of-assarion". This is the smallest denomination of Israelite coin; "assarion". Previously, it has been identified in the scriptures that the silver coins were "argurion" and now we have "assarion" in bronze. To this point, there was no corresponding Roman coin of such a small denomination. I've had a hard time finding any coins of smaller denomination than the denarius. Indeed this Wiki article on Roman Currency indicates the following:
This is reflected in the infrequent and inadequate production of bronze coinage during the Republic, where from the time of Sulla till the time of Augustus no bronze coins were minted at all;So I'm going to assume that the archeological record does not include any small denomination Roman coins issued for these 200 years or so, leading up to the time of the events depicted in the account of the Apostle Matthew here. Augustus died in about 14 AD so perhaps these Roman coins found here at the base of the western wall (which are purportedly bronze) were some of the first small denomination coins issued after the death of Augustus. I would really like to see images of these Roman coins.
It is interesting to think about how the economy in the Roman Empire would have operated for 200 years where the smallest denomination of currency issued would have been also the stated day-wage for labor; the denarius. Would this have been an effective "price anchor" (or even more perhaps even promoted some just distributional economic results) in an economy that also was not subject to critical energy resources existing under the control of uncooperative external agents?
This system would have started under the leadership of Sulla; here is an interesting excerpt from his Wiki page:
Sulla used his armies to march on Rome twice, and after the second he revived the office of dictator, which had not been used since the Second Punic War over a century before. He used his powers to enact a series of reforms to the Roman constitution, meant to restore the balance of power between the Senate and the tribunes; he then stunned the Roman World (and posterity) by resigning the dictatorship, restoring normal constitutional government, and after his second Consulship, retiring to private life..... He dismissed his lictors and walked unguarded in the Forum, offering to give account of his actions to any citizen.This Sulla sounds like a true believer in human enlightened ideas such as representative civil government, term limits and personal accountability. This perhaps continued through the reign of Augustus and ushered in the era of Pax Romana. It may be that this long term policy of issuing only high minimum denomination currency helped lead to the so-called Pax Romana, while here we maybe can see in this recent find, in Jerusalem, of smaller denomination Roman coins issued soon after Augustus death, what would come to be the sowing of the seeds of the destruction of Pax Romana.