Year 9 St Paul’s School students recently enjoyed the opportunity to view and hold a variety of coins from the time of Jesus. The coins were brought to us by the Centre for Coins, Culture and Religious History, which is a ministry of St John’s Cathedral.
This experience was incredibly thought-provoking because we were able learn about the coins’ sentimental and historical value. Additionally, learning that people in Jesus’ era used a currency much like what we use today made ancient history more relatable.
Personally, the coins that I was most curious about were the ones with human faces because it astonished me how much detail was included in the coins, despite the coin-making constraints of that time. Fellow student Jessica Vickers said that, “the coins are very intriguing and I like the concept and detail in the coins.”
We learnt the symbols of each coin and how they represented hierarchy, valued objects and other meaningful imagery. Out of the coins shown in this incursion, my favourite was a small roughly-shaped silver coin with an eagle design. The eagle represented imperial power. This coin dated back to around 80 BCE, and it was breathtaking to think I was holding something so incredibly old.
Many ancient coins from were cast with the head of a political leader on one side, with a symbol adjacent to the leader. Another common coin symbol was an anchor, which represented hope and salvation in Jesus.
It is vital that young people like me learn about ancient coins and other areas of ancient history because it provides a great deal of information on biblical times, giving us insights into Anglican beliefs and the history of humanity.
Thank you to the Centre for Coins, Culture and Religious History for hosting this special incursion. As fellow student Hannah McDonell said, “I believe it is truly fascinating how well of a condition the museum has kept these coins in.”