Our guiding purpose is to characterize our collections in such a way as to be correctly perceived as Jerusalem's archaeological museum of Christian origins, at the service of the scholars and pilgrims who, in ever greater numbers, visit the Holy Land.
Fr. Eugenio Alliata - Director
OPEN Tuesday-Saturday; 09-13 / 14-16
Phone (972) - 2 - 6270456 / 6270444
In the Museum's entrance lobby, which is divided into two sections, visitors, will find a brief history of the archaeological and scientific activity of the Studium, from the time of its founding until the present day. On display is also a selection of the Institute's numerous publications. Sculptured marble and stone fragments from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, from Bethany, and elsewhere, adorn the upper section. In the centre of the room, shouldering a symbolic cross, stands a medieval mystical lamb (chosen as symbol of the Museum), found in the area of the Hospital that formerly stood in front of the Holy Sepulchre.
On the left wall, along with some ancient masonry which originally occupied this very area now part of the Flagellation monastery, a collection of funeral busts and sculptures from Palmira in the Syrian desert, is on display. The sculptures are accompanied by three fragments of a third century (AD.) mosaic floor found at Balqis in Upper Syria, on which three Roman Provinces (Germania, Africa and Mauritania) are personified.
The first room of the Museum is dedicated to the excavations at Nazareth directed by Fr. Prosper Viaud in 1909 and by Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti in 1956-1970. A large luminous panel, structured with four superimposed sheets of Plexiglas, one for each of the four periods of main reconstruction at the sanctuary of the Annunciation, gives a visual synthesis of the archaeological findings. On the wall to the right, are life size copies of five magnificent capitals discovered by Fr. Viaud in a grotto near the northern wall of the basilica, to which they belonged. They represent: the Church with an apostle, the stories of St. Peter, of St. James and St. Thomas, of St. Matthew and St. Bartholomew, and of Jesus with the apostles.
On the floor, two original capitals found in recent excavations: the resurrection of Tabita by St. Peter, with small fragments of the same period.
Pottery vessels of different periods, accompanied by giant photos, illustrate the history of the village and of the sanctuaries of the Annunciation and of St. Joseph to the north. Also on display there are pottery vessels of the Late Bronze Age (14th-13th c.BC); of the Early Iron Age (10th-9th c.BC); Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Arabic pottery (3rd c.BC-12th c.AD); along with coloured plaster of the pre-Byzantine shrine. The graffiti found under the Byzantine mosaics of the 4th-5th c.AD., are presented only in photos. The originals are held in the museum near the basilica of the Annunciation, with other important items from the excavations. There is also a photo of the document written in Arabic by which the Amir Fakhr ed-Din gave the Grotto of the Annunciation to the Franciscans in 1630.
The Museum's second room is dedicated to the excavations at Caphernahum, on the shore of the lake of Galilee, directed by Fr. Gaudentius Orfali in 1921 and Fr. Virgilius Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda between 1968 and 1989. In this room are preserved findings of the greatest importance, those related to the house of St. Peter.
By means of an illuminated panel, visitors are introduced to the three principal consecutive periods in the history of the sacred area in which pilgrims venerated the house of St. Peter:
1 ) the Roman period when the house differed in no way from any other humble dwelling in the village;
2) the pre-Byzantine period when the house was surrounded by an enclosure wall and its central room changed into a domestic sanctuary (domus ecclesia), walls were plastered and decorated with painted flowers, fruits and geometric patterns on which pilgrims scratched their names and prayers;
3) the Byzantine period when an octagonally shaped basilica, with baptistry on the east side, replaced the domus-ecclesia, marking the spot where hospitality had once been extended to Jesus in this village while preaching in the synagogue or on the sea-shore.
In addition to the panel there are plastic models of the sacred area and of the second group of dwellings between the church and the synagogue. These afford a good idea of the appearance of the village's buildings at the time of Jesus.
Large scale photos, plans and reconstructions assist visitors to better evaluate the items displayed in the show cases, and to see their relationship to the history of the sanctuary, and of the Jewish synagogue, and to portray the general history of the village itself from the second century BC. until the eighth-ninth century AD.
Special note should be taken of the graffiti on the coloured plaster from the domus-ecclesia, in different languages ("O Lord Jesus Christ--is written on a fragment in Greek -- have mercy of..."), and also of the pottery vessels of the 1st century found in the mortar pavement of the sacred house: three small oil lamps, a cooking pot and two fishhooks.
The corner on the left wall of the Caphernahum room is assigned to the excavations conducted by Fr. V. Corbo and St. Loffreda from 1971 to 1976 at Magdala on the western shore of the Lake of Galilee, north of Tiberias.
The digs have unearthed a Byzantine monastery, a square plaza with private and public buildings on the eastern side of the main road which crossed the Roman town. A room on the northern edge of the excavations had a mosaic floor with magical symbols.
In the show-cases, marble fragments of a Jewish synagogue with vine motifs are on exhibit, along with Roman pottery and bronze objects found in the town birthplace of Mary Magdalene.
The third room is dedicated to the excavations at Dominus Flevit, on the western slopes of the Mount of Olives, directed by Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti from 1953 to 1955.
On the right wall there is an exhibit of the rich funeral deposit found in a double Jebusite tomb in the necropolis (1500-1400 BC.). This latter was located slightly to the Southwest of the old Byzantine chapel which for pilgrims marked the spot where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19,41). The exhibits are excellent examples of the technical culture of the pre-Davidic inhabitants of the town, and their commercial relations with the foreign world. Along with locally made vessels were found Egyptian alabasters and Hyksos scarabs, as well as Micenean pots. In the centre of the room is a plastic model of the excavation site.
On the left wall of the room, are Jewish ossuaries of the Roman period with names scratched or traced in charcoal on their walls. Along with the familiar Gospel name like Jesus, Mary, Martha, Zachary, Shimon, Salome, John etc., there is a pre-Costantinian monogram traced in charcoal, and other inscriptions which are related by the discoverer to the first Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem.
One of the Roman tombs of the necropolis yielded a hoard of silver Jewish shekels minted during the first Revolt against Rome (AD 66-70).
On the central wall large photos describe the excavations of the Byzantine monastery with the chapel and its sacristy, decorated with mosaic floors. In the showcases on the same wall there are golden jewellery, glass vessels and pottery from the Roman-Byzantine necropolis.
In the dedicatory inscription of the northern sacristy it is stated that "it was built by Simeon and offered to Christ our Lord for the forgiveness of his misdeeds and for the rest of his brother, the Abbott George and Domitius friend of Christ".
Placed at the entrance of the room is a Herodian period sarcophagus, one of the most beautiful yet discovered in Jerusalem, its sides and cover decorated with geometric and floral patterns.
Excavations on the Mount of Olives are featured in the fourth exhibition room. The excavations include sites at: the basilica of Gethsemani (by Fr. G. Orfali in 19191920), the Grotto of the Apostles where Jesus was arrested (by Fr. V. Corbo in 1956) the Tomb of the Blessed Virgin in the Kidron valley (by Fr. B. Bagatti in 1972), the sanctuary of the Ascension on the top of the mount (by Fr. V. Corbo in 1959), the villages of Bethfage (by Fr. S. Saller and Fr. Testa in 1956), and Bethany on the eastern slopes (by Fr. S. Saller in 1949-1953).
The central wall is occupied by findings from Bethany, the village of Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus. The excavations have proved that the village dates back at least to the Persian period (5th c.BC), although Middle Bronze Age period tombs have been found in the vicinity.
Herodian Palestine is the dominant theme in the fifth room, to set the period during which Jesus lived and to portray the political rulers of the region.
On exhibit in the showcases on the front wall are coins of king Herod, his sons Antipas, Archaelaus and Philip, emperors Augustus and Tiberius, and the small coins struck in Judaea by the Roman Procurators, such as Pontius Pilate, together with two leather fragments of the Qumran scrolls, and a papyrus fragment of the Wadi Murabba'at manuscripts with an ink-pot of the first century AD.
The left wall is dedicated to the excavations at the Herodion fortress near Bethlehem directed by Fr. V. Corbo in 1962-1967. Greek and Hebrew ostraka, one of which has a Hebrew alphabet, arfe also displayed here.
The right wall is dedicated to the findings of the Machaerus fortress in Peraea, the site in which John the Baptist was beheaded by order of Herod Antipas. The excavations, directed by Fr. V. Corbo, began in 1978. Two elaborate capitals from the Herodion, are placed at the entrance of the room, together with pottery of the same period.
The sixth room is dedicated to Jordan and to the excavations carried on by the Institute at Mount Nebo, at the Memorial of Moses and in the town of Nebo.
At the Memorial of Moses, the spot is called Siyagha by the Arabs of the region, the excavations were directed by Fr. S. Saller (1933-1937), Fr. V. Corbo (1963-1970) and Fr. M. Piccirillo (since 1976).
The exhibition on the left wall shows pottery of different periods, and fragments of two Samaritan inscriptions, found during the excavations of the Sanctuary.
The wall on the right is dedicated to the mosaic-floors of the five churches excavated in the town of Nebo, Khirbet el-Mukhayyat.
On the front wall there is on exhibit a rich collection of pottery vessels found in tombs at Bab ed-Dhra', on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, dating back to the third millennium BC. Some vessels are unique with painted or incised decoration.
There are also funerary objects from different tombs excavated from the necropolis of the town of Nebo dating from the third and second millennium up to the Iron Age, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Among the artefacts found in the Iron Age tombs (8th c.BC) there is a Moabite cylinder seal, an incised ostraka, and two female figurines.
At the entrance of the room there is a beautiful Byzantine capital with cross and doves, from the Memorial of Moses.
The Museum's seventh room is dedicated to the history of the monastic movement in the Judaean desert. The findings come from different monasteries excavated by Fr. V. Corbo in the area, around Bethlehem, at Siyar al-Ghanam, Khirbet Makhrum, Khirbet Juhdom and Bir el-Qutt.
On the front wall is displayed a dedicatory inscription found in the Georgian monastery of Bir el-Qutt: "By the help of Christ, and with the intercession of St. Theodore, have mercy o Lord on the Abbott Anthony and on Josiah the founder of this mosaic and of the father and mother of Josiah. Amen". The inscription is of great historical value to the antiquity of the Georgian language.
In the show cases there are Byzantine vessels and inscriptions found at Siyar al Ghanam and Bir el-Qutt, together with a capital from Khirbet Makhrum exposed in the centre of the room, and a funeral stele from Khirbet Juhdom: "O Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on the humble Elijah and give rest to your servant Theodolus among saints".
The Galilee region is very prominent in the excavation projects of the Studium. Those undertaken at Nazareth and Capharnaum are better known, but much work has been done at other places in this northern province of the Holy Land.
Reconstruction of Mount Thabor's Basilica of the Transfiguration made it possible for the Franciscan archaeologists to examine mural remains of the previous Byzantine and Crusader Churches built on the same spot, as well as the Ayyubite Islamic fortress which occupied the top of the mountain from 1212 AD.
At Kefer Kenna, a Hebrew dedicatory inscription was found, under the present church, which belonged to the mosaic floor of a Synagogue. Roman pottery suggests that the village was inhabited in that period.
Father Viaud's excavations at Sephoris in 1909 have shown that the Crusader's church of Saint Anne in that important ancient town of Galilee, was also constructed above a synagogue.
At Tabgha, on the edge of the Lake of Galilee, north of Capharnaum, excavations have been made at two Byzantine sanctuaries by Fr. B. Bagatti (in 1935) at the chapel commemorating the Sermon on the Mount, and by Fr. S. Loffreda (in 1969) at the chapel of the "Primacy" of St. Peter.
A section of the Museum is dedicated to the excavations in the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.
Beneath the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, north of the venerated Grotto, the so-called grottos of St. Jerome were excavated by Fr. B. Bagatti in 1963-64. The grottos were inhabited since the Iron Age (8th cent. BC). On the northern slopes of the hill an Iron Age Tomb and a Byzantine chapel were found in the same years studied by Fr. S. Saller.
Systematic excavations have been carried out at the village of Ein Karim, in the sanctuary of St. John (by Fr. S. Saller in 1941-1942), and at the Sanctuary of the Visitation (by Fr. B. Bagatti in 1937), tracing back the history of the site from the Roman period to present day.
During the 2nd World War in 1940-44, Fr. B. Bagatti resumed the research at Emmaus-Qubeibeh north of the medieval church rebuilt by the Franciscans in 1912. The medieval agricultural village was excavated and some traces of the Roman-Byzantine settlement were uncovered.
Fr. V. Corbo published the results of the excavations and soundings done in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre during the restoration work begun in 1960. The findings have resulted in the better understanding of the Golgota area, of the Sepulchre of Jesus, and of the history of this principal Christian monument.
In the showcases dedicated to Mount Zion, are gathered Byzantine and Roman pottery found in the Latin cemeteries located on the southern slopes of the western hill of Jerusalem, and a Renaissance Italian angel found in the Franciscan monastery reopened in 1935 near the Upper Room church built by the Franciscans in the 14th century.
For the benefit of the students at the Studium, one room of the Museum is devoted to a systematic chronological display of ancient pottery found in Palestine and Jordan, from the third millennium BC (Bab ed-Dhra') to the Ayyubid Islamic pottery of the 13th Century AD.
Of particular note are some beautiful Middle Bronze Age vessels and black juglets of the same period (Tell Yahudiyyeh ware of the 17th-16th c. BC.); two zoomorphic vessels of the Late Bronze Age (14th-13th c. BC) in the form of a bull (one imported, and one locally made) both with decorations; a lid of so called Philistine anthropomorphic sarcophagus (11th-10th c. BC); a small Hellenistic juglet with a Greek name engraved on it (3rd-2nd c. BC); Late Roman and Byzantine trays with stamps on the bottom (sigillata and pseudo sigillata ware of the 4th-6th c. AD)and medieval "bottles" from Mount Thabor (13th c. AD).
In the center of the room is an exhibition of Palestinian oil lamps and pottery stamped with seals of different periods. Among the Byzantine artifacts, of particular interest is a type of lamp probably used for liturgical purposes during the Baptism, with the Greek inscription in relief "the light of Christ shines to everyone".
The Egyptian collection was acquired in Alexandria, Egypt, by Brother Cleophas Steinhausen in the years preceding World War I and given to the Museum of the Flagellation at the beginning of the British Mandate. It includes miscellaneous objects of different periods, from the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium BC) down to the Coptic period (7th-8th century AD).
To Pharaonic Egypt there belong: sarcophagi and fragments of sarcophagi, funeral masks, and ushabti ("servants") figures, mostly of the Late Period; sculptured pieces, inscriptions and funeral stelae, mostly of the New Kingdom (including the El-Amarna Period); scarabs, pottery of different periods, canopic jars, and other alabaster vases.
Among minor objects one can find a fairly good collection of different Egyptian gods and goddesses in clay, fayence and bronze; and jewelry in gold.
To the Graeco-Roman period there belongs a large collection of clay and stone statuettes of deities human figures, animals etc.
The Coptic period is represented by sculptural pieces, pottery, some ampullae of St. Menas (showing the saint standing, in an attitude of prayer, between two camels), and lamps; pieces of papyri and a collection of ostraka (from Upper Egypt).
In the large separate northern hall of the museum are grouped different collections of artifacts.
On the western wall visitors will find the medieval liturgical objects of the Church of the Nativity found in Bethlehem on two different occasions: in 1863 candlesticks, a crosier and two copper basins were found and in 1906, 13 bells and 250 copper organ pipes were discovered and added to the collection.
The crosier and the three enameled candlesticks are among the most ancient enameled objects of Limoges known, dating from the time of Baldwin II (1144-1162). The pair of silver candlesticks carry the Latin inscription: "Cursed be he who takes me away from the holy grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem". The life of St. Thomas is narrated on the two copper basins.
The bells form part of two carillon sets which were played together with the organ (12th c. ).
A number of small bronze objects of Roman and Byzantine manufacture, are displayed in a showcase on the southern side of the northern hall.
Among the items on display, one can see incense shovels of the first century, a decorated lamp from Alexandria, a small deity, and a horse of the same period; a Bizantine censer found at Jericho, together with a plaque on which St. George is portrayed on the right side, with a Greek inscription on the reverse. "Saint George accept the offering of your servant". In the center of the showcase hangs a gilded bronze crucifix of the Crusader Period (12th c.AD).
Also preserved are various metal stamps with Greek inscriptions such as: "The shop of good things" and "Good luck to the purchaser", or the names of the owners.
In a showcase in the centre of the northern hall there is a collection of seals from the paleo Babylonian, and Persian periods along with Byzantine bullae.
One can see the official bullae of the Crusader period, such as the bulla of Pope Lucius 111 (1181-1185), that of Onorius III (12161227), the bulla of King Baldwin I (1100-1118) with the inscription "Bauduin by grace of God, King of Jerusalem" on the right side; "The city of the King of all kings" on the reverse. The bulla of Boemundus Prince of Antioch, that of Simeon the Patriarch of Antioch with a Greek inscription; the bulla of the leper hospital of St. Lazar in Jerusalem, ("Seal of the house of the lepers of St. Lazar in Jerusalem") and a devotional medallion with the Resurrection, of the same period.
The small collection from Mesopotamia is made up of 15 clay inscriptions: 13 clay tablettes, a foundation cone and a fragment of an Assyrian royal inscription, along with 30 cylinder seals.
Eight economic tablets, were written in the town of Umma, at the time of the 3rd Ur dinasty (2100-2000 BC). On five tablets and on the cone, the king Sin-Kasid of the town of Uruk, (1850 B.C.) commemorates his foundation activity.
The Assyrian fragment comes from the wall decoration of the Assurnasirpal II royal palace of Nimrud (883-859 B.C.).
There is a list of irrigation and field work, distribution of beer, barley and flour, and a list of wool and animal skins.
The tablets have all the same text: "Sin-Kasid, the strong man, the king of Uruk the king of the Amnanum, has built for his royal highness his royal palace".
The collection of Roman and Byzantine glassware vessels displayed in a showcase on the southern wall of the northern hall is only a specimen of the rich collection of the Museum. The vessels were collected over the years in Nazareth and come from the necropolis of the cities of the Decapolis like Gadara, from Magdala on the shore of the sea of Galilee, or from towns and village of the Galilee, like Seforis, Cana etc. Different vessels were found during the excavations at Dominus Flevit and Bethany.
The different types such as goblets, beakers, bottles and flasks, tableware, personal ornaments, lamps, perfume bottles and coin weights, almost all were produced by the process of blowing, and decorated by means of different techniques, such as that of pinching glass, or applying additional glass ornamentation to the vessel's surface.
Early Islamic glasses are also represented in the collection.
Always of interest to the visitors is the small exhibit in the northern hall, of commercial weights, belonging to Roman Byzantine times. One of the biggest bears the Greek inscription: "The year 370, Eliodore, son of Basileidos, being agoranomos".
The book of the Maccabees (II Mac. 3, 1-4) and Josephus Flavius testify that the function of the agoranomos existed at the time of Jesus. According to Rabbinic literature the public official had to control the weights, and later on, the prices of the city market.
The weights in bronze, lead or glass, had different forms. They are square or round, or in the forms of a small ball, or an animal or person, ordinarily with an inscription giving the exact weight. On the Byzantine weights a cross is added.
The Museum has a nice specimen of a cast which was used to make Byzantine weights.
In another showcase of the northern hall visitors may see various small objects used for Christian worship. Among them is a Byzantine gold ring decorated with an Annunciation scene with the Greek inscription ("Hail Mary full of grace"), some small neck crosses in both bronze and stone, several copper amulets upon which an equestrian Solomon is depicted vanquishing the woman-demon.
There are also three small blades, one of which, made of gold, is of pagan origin, while the other two, both silver, have aramaic inscriptions and symbols difficult to read and interpret, with references to the ideas of the Jewish-Christian communities of Palestine.
The lamella in gold has a Greek inscription similar to the funerary ones: "If somebody compares the two deceased ones Dyonisus and you, I search for him. But you Libanus, I desire. The two were faithful".
A striking example of more recent Palestinian art occupies the central spot of the northern hall. It is a small model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with inlaid work, in olive wood and mother of pearl, from the 17th-18th century.
The model represents the Basilica of the Resurrection after the Crusader restoration of the 12th Century, separated from the surrounding buildings. During the 17th century a number of similar devotional objects were produced by craftsmen in Bethlehem and sold to western pilgrims as souvernirs of their pilgrimage. The craftsmen based their work on the detailed plans of the sacred edifice drawn and published by the Franciscan Architect Fr. Bernardin Amico, who served the monasteries of Bethlehem and Jerusalem from 1593 to 1597.
Various sections of the roofing can be lifted, so that the inside can be seen. The model which is one of best preserved, is an excellent example of the type of work initiated by the Franciscans in Bethlehem, in the handycraft of applying mother of pearl inlay to olive wood.
Arranged in showcases along the northern wall of the hall are some liturgical and illuminated books from the larger collection of the Museum.
In the center is a Franciscan Breviary and a Missal book of the 13th century. To the left, two illuminated anthiphonary books (Codex. H,D,K) of the 14th century, royal gift by England's Henry IV, according to the handwritten inscription added to Cod D. 1 r "Pray for the soul of the most illustrious prince, our lord John, once duke of Lancaster, son of the king of England Edward III and father of Henry IV. . . done for the consolation of the friars of the Holy Mount Zion". Henry IV came as a pilgrim to Jerusalem in 1392. The beautiful illuminated pages of the manuscripts are of Italian origin .
To the right, two other illuminated antiphonaries of the 11 written by Br. James from Monza (Milano, Italy) in 1662 (Cod. R,S,G,P, V,T, E,B,A,X,Z). For several centuries they were used by Friars in the monastery of St. Saviour.
In earlier years the Studium's art collection was more considerable. Still preserved among other canvases of lesser value is a small 15th century wood showing the Stigmatization of St. Francis, and seven altar pieces of a South-Tyrol School, the Peter and Paul Altarpiece.
The seven panels decorated an altar of the chapel of Sts Peter and Paul consecrated in 1476 in Sterzing (the Italian Vipiteno), a small town near the Brenner Pass. When in 1744 the chapel was refashioned in the Baroque style, the altar was mutilated and the wings of the altarpiece were separated, and later sold to Prof. Johann Nepomuk Sepp of Munich, who in 1861 donated the seven panels to the Franciscan chapel of St. Peter of Tiberias on the shore of the lake. The altarpiece is attributed to Friedrich Pacher. We have St. Peter walking on the water, the Conversion of Saul, Ananias Healing Saul, the Liberation of St. Peter, the Parting of the Apostles according to the "Legenda Aurea", the Martyrdom of St. Peter and the Martyrdom of St. Paul.
Arranged on the Right wall of the northern hall is an unusual and interesting Franciscan heirloom: the carefully preserved array of apothecary jugs and jars once forming the inventory of the Pharmacy of St. Saviour's monastery in Jerusalem. This pharmacy served the needs of both friars and pilgrims, the city's Christian community and its population in general, irrespective of creed for several centuries.
The Pharmacy of St.
Saviour's Monastery in Jerusalem dates back to as early as 1620.
However its real development must be attributed to Fr Anthony
Menzani of Cuna (1650 - 1729) - a friar physician and pharmacist. It
was described as one of the finest pharmacies in the Christian world at
that time. Fr Anthony worked tirelessly practicing his medical art day
and night. But he also loved his pharmacy. After many years work Fr
Anthony invented and formulated the well renowned "Balsam of Jerusalem'
which was an important remedy for various ailments for about two
centuries in Europe and the near East.
Commissioned by the Custody of the Holy Land to the firm of Boselli in Savona, near Genoa in Italy, the collection was embellished by supplementary pieces coming from Venice (now to the right and left of the entrance to the hall). The Savona pots are dated from the middle of the 17th cent. up to the 19th century. Many of them have the firm's mark on the bottom (a hawk with crown) and also the signature: "Giacomo Boselli Savona 1791". On the face of the jugs, along with the name of the drug and decorations,are painted the coat of arms of the Custody of the Holy Land and that of the Republic of Genoa.
A showcase in the northern hall is dedicated to ancient coins of Syria-Palestine and of the Roman-Byzantine Empire. Although for security reasons it is not sufficiently represented, the numismatic collection of the Museum merits special attention. Begun with the donation of Fr. Tonizza of more than 2000 Alexandrian and Islamic coins, the collection was augmented and built up by Fr. Augustus Spijkerman over a period of some fifteen years.
The strongest sections of the collection comprise the ancient city-coins of Palestine (Judaea, Samaria and Galilee) and Transjordan (Decapolis and Provincia Arabia), a collection which for some cities may be considered complete, with not a few unique specimens.
Also well represented is the section of ancient Hebrew coins, with, however, one notable exception the silver issues of the Second Revolt, thus far poorly represented. Other sections, as e.g. Phoenicia, Syria, and Mesopotamia, are well represented. Less so the collections of Roman and Byzantine coinage of the Empire. Noteworthy is the Nabatean collection and the Crusader and Islamic coins.
Of great historical value is the hoard of shekels of the First Revolt, found by Br. Michelangelo Tizzani in a Roman tomb at Dominus Flevit, in February, 1961. The archaeologically perfect context of this hoard (10 shekels, 4 half shekels, 1 shekel of Tyre with a tetradragm of Nero minted at Antioche), enabled Fr. Spijkerman to consider the evidence of this find as peremptory proof that the so-called "thick shekels" were struck indeed during the five years of the First Jewish Revolt.
In the course of his excavation at the Herodion, Fr. Corbo found a large hoard of Second Revolt bronze coins (a total of 831 pieces were retrieved, all but 9 of the Second Revolt). A third hoard of about 3,000 silver coins, from the time of Nero to that of Emperor Gallienus, was accidentally unearthed in 1920, not far from the synagogue in Capharnaum.
Another find of special significance was that of a Caesarea coin of the emperor Nero, a common type dated to 67/68 AD, but showing on the obverse a countermark within which are four letters, reading ITAL. It is very tempting indeed to read into these letters an abbreviation of the Cohors Italica, mentioned in connection with the story of Cornelius the centurion, the first pagan baptized by St. Peter in that town (Act. 10,1).
The epigraphic collection of the Museum includes inscriptions in. Greek, Latin, early Hebrew, Syriac, Saphaitic, Thamudic, Arabic, paleo-Babylonian and Assyrian, Egyptian, Coptic and Georgian, with a preponderance of the Greek language.
A special section of the museum, in the vaulted room to the left of the entrance to the monastery of the Flagellation, is dedicated to inscriptions on marble and stone, to the ossuaries of Dominus Flevit and to some sculptures.
The center of the room is occupied by the restored baptistry-basin of the Holy Sepulchre of the Byzantine period. Among the sculptures, special attention is given to the medieval console with two persons, found in the compound of the Hospital in front of the Holy Sepulchre. It was called "the kiss of Judah" by pilgrims. Actually it may represent the reception of a pilgrim at the hospice.
Among the Greek inscriptions is noted a marble inscription found at Cesarea in which an orphanotrophium, orphalinage, is mentioned.
Along with three Latin funerary steles of Roman soldiers of the 4th, 5th and 10th legion, found at Amwas and in Jerusalem, there are two monumental dedications to the emperor Hadrian who destroyed and rebuilt Jerusalem as the Roman Aelia Capitolina, now on exhibit in the courtyard of the Flagellation monastery together with Constantinian and Medieval capitals from the Holy Sepulchre. On the western wall of the same courtyard is exposed a mosaic dedicatory inscription from a Byzantine chapel found at Bethlehem.