Israeli astronaut to take 1,900-year-old coin to space

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An ancient coin from nearly 1,900 years ago will fly with the second Israeli astronaut to space, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Thursday.

The coin, recently uncovered in the Cave of Horror in the Judean Desert in southeastern Israel, bears the first name of Simon bar Kokhba, the leader of the third Jewish revolt against the Romans, between 132 and 136 AD.

Both sides of the coin also bear Jewish symbols, including a palm tree and a vine leaf.

Eytan Stibbe, the astronaut, is scheduled to fly into space on a private flight aboard a SpaceX spacecraft in early 2022.

Stibbe was presented with the coin on Thursday during a visit to the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls laboratory, where he viewed scrolls written in the Aramaic language over 2,000 years ago, which already then discussed celestial bodies.

"I will be taking to space a bag filled with items that have a special meaning to me. It was clear to me that one of them will be a symbol of Jewish history," said the astronaut.

Eli Eskosido, Director of the IAA, added that "the Jews who struck this coin while fighting for their independence could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that it will make its way to space with a Jewish astronaut who lives in an independent Jewish state."

He added that "Bar Kokhba means 'son of a star' in Hebrew, and today this name receives an added symbolic meaning."

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