Ancient history

Valuable 'Cleopatra' coin unearthed in Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, August 12, 2010

A precious coin dating back more than 2,200 years has been discovered in northern Israel. The antique coin is believed to bear the image of Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

At a weight of 28 grams, it is some six times heavier than other coins from the same time, and represents one of the most valuable archeological finding ever made in Israel.

Donald Ariel, the head of Israel’s antiquities authority coin department, said the coin was probably minted by the Egyptian Ptolemies, who ruled between 305 BC and 30 BC.


Jewish donor funds Cambridge digital library

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Cambridge University has announced plans to digitise a collection of rare books including important ancient Jewish texts.

Thanks to a donation from British Jewish philanthropist Dr Leonard Polonsky, the university will be converting books from its faith collection into digital form.

Dr Polonsky, ranked at number 507 on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2009, has pledged £1.5 million for the project. The New York born businessman founded the Polonsky-Coexist Lectureship in Jewish Studies at Cambridge.


Israel’s biblical bees came from Turkey

By Jennifer Lipman, June 8, 2010

Israel has long been known as a land flowing with milk and honey, and now scientists have discovered exactly where the bees came from.

Researchers at the Hebrew University have found that the biblical bees almost certainly came from Turkey and were transferred hundreds of miles to Israel. The findings, the earliest examples of bringing animals such a long way, suggest the ancient Israelites were involved in sophisticated agricultural practices.

In 2007 scientists came across the remains of clay beehives dating back 3000 years in the Jordan Valley.


The demon trap getting historians all fired up

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2009

If you are looking for a novel half-term activity, then it would be hard to beat the ancient art of demon-trapping. On Tuesday and Thursday next week, the British Museum in London, in association with the Jewish Museum, is running family workshops where you can make an incantation bowl like the ones used by our Babylonian ancestors to keep unwanted spirits at bay.