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Coin

Coin

Judaea Capta Coin of Vespasian

Rome (Italy), 71 C.E.
  • Gold
  • 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Samuel Friedenberg Collection, X1983-88
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Judaea Capta Coin of Vespasian

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Judaea Capta Coin of Vespasian

The coin shown here is known as a Judaea Capta (Latin for "Judea Captured") coin. The Roman government issued these coins to celebrate their victory over the Jews in 70 CE, during which they destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem. This triumph of paganism over monotheism was particularly significant to the Romans, who were losing increasing numbers of upper-class citizens to Judaism and Christianity.

One side of the coin features a portrait of Emperor Vespasian (69–79 CE), who was the emperor at the time, and his name in Latin; on the other side is a depiction of a mourning Jewess sitting beneath a trophy. Below her is the word "Judaea." Some Judaea Capta coins, like this Roman one, depict Vespasian. Others show Titus, the general who conquered Jerusalem and later became emperor.

Coins from different lands traveled quickly throughout the Near East as a result of international trade. Because coins had such wide distribution, governments often used them to celebrate or publicize important events.