Home Contents Search

 

Numismatic Evidence of the Jewish Origins of the Cross Collection

T. B. Cartwright
November 15, 2014

Introduction

            Anticipation for the Jewish Messiah’s first prophesied arrival was great and widespread.   Both Jewish and Samaritan populations throughout the known world were watching because of the timeframe given in Daniel 9. These verses, simply stated, proclaim that the Messiah’s ministry would begin about 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445BC.   So, beginning about 150 BC, temple scribes began placing the Hebrew tav in the margins of scrolls to indicate those verses related to the “Messiah” or to the “Last Days.”   The meaning of the letter tav is “sign,” “symbol,” “promise,” or “covenant.”   Shortly after 150 BC, the tav (both + and X forms) began showing up on coins throughout the Diaspora -- ending with a flurry of the use of the symbol at the time of the Messiah’s birth. 

            The Samaritans, in an effort to remain independent of the Jewish community, utilized a different symbol for the anticipation of their Messiah or  Tahib.  Their choice was the tau-rho monogram,  , which pictorially showed a suffering Tahib on a cross.    Since the Northern Kingdom was dispersed in 725 BC, there was no central government authority to direct the use of the symbol.  So, they depended on the Diaspora and nations where they were located to place the symbol on coins.   The use of this symbol began in Armenia in 76 BC and continued through Yeshua’s ministry and on into the early Christian scriptures as a nomina sacra.

            As a result, the symbols ( +, X and  ) were the “original” signs of the Messiah prophesied throughout scriptures.  For the purpose of this article, details of the tau-rho monogram and the Samaritan Tahib will be discussed in a separate paper.   The present work will focus only on the “tav” cross.

 

The Cross and the Messiah – the Vatican’s View

The lack of credible evidence of the true history of the cross was probably the biggest disappointment during the research for this paper.   The “official history” of the cross comes from the Vatican -- which notoriously rewrote history to validate Catholicism.    (A prominent example of a misleading claim is that Peter was the first Pope when, in reality, Yakov (James), Yeshua’s brother, was the first Bishop of the Jerusalem church.)    But where the history of the cross is concerned, the Vatican’s version says that the cross originated in the year 200 AD in the catacombs of Rome (as a Greek cross in Figure 1).   The reason given for such a late origination of the cross comes from the early Church fathers who said that the cross stood for Christ’s suffering and the overwhelming shame of that made it too unbearable to use as a symbol.   As a result, the first “official” cross, known as the Latin cross,  was not designated until the time of Constantine the Great, after the Council of Nicaea.   An example of the  first use of the Latin cross can  be seen on a bronze follis from 334 AD in Figure 2.


Figure  1.

Vatican’s 1st public use of the cross from the tomb of Rufinas 205 AD


Figure  2.

1st appearance of the Latin cross on a bronze follis of Constantine 334 AD.

 Here is a good summary of the Catholic Church’s version of the history of the cross from Marucchi’s work in 1908: 

“…the cross should have appeared in Christian homes as an object of religious veneration, although no such monument of the earliest Christian art has been preserved.”

 

“The cross, therefore, appears at an early date as an element of the liturgical life of the faithful, and to such an extent that in the first half of the third century Tertullian could publicly designate the Christian body as "crucis religiosi", i.e. devotees of the Cross.”

 

“It is probable, though we have no historical evidence for it, that the primitive Christians used the cross to distinguish one another from the pagans in ordinary social intercourse… and …replied to the pagan taunt by showing that their persecutors themselves adored cruciform objects.”

 

“The second event was of even greater importance. In the year 326 the mother of Constantine, Helena, then about 80 years old, having journeyed to Jerusalem… would discover the Saviour's Tomb and His Cross…”

 

Marucchi, O. (1908). Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  Retrieved November 12, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04517a.htm

            It is important to point out that Helena had several historians and writers in her contingent to Jerusalem.  Their purpose was to detail her activities and the journals of the trip still exist.  However, none of their extensive, detailed writings mention “the greatest archeological find of all time” – the cross on which Christ was crucified.   So, it is my speculation that the Latin Cross was contrived from a political arrangement between the Constantine government and the Roman Church’s desire to be unique as God’s chosen Church.  Unfortunately, it is the “legend” of Helena’s cross that became the design basis for the “Christian Crosses” even into current times.

 

The Cross and the Messiah --  The Facts 

            To quote John Adams, “…facts are stubborn things…”   The historical and archeological evidence show clearly that the cross existed at least 350 years before the Vatican’s claim.  Ancient coins provide the clearest, most convincing evidence that the simple cross was used not only by the early Christians just after the crucifixion but also by faithful Jews before Christ’s coming.   Verifying evidence of the early cross can also be found in scrolls, ossuaries, and rings and coins in the centuries before and after Yeshua’s birth and death.  (A complete chronology of Christian symbols can be seen in Appendix I.)

Was this evidence known by early Christian fathers? Yes, it appears that theologians and historians have worked diligently through the centuries to suppress the knowledge of early crosses.    Most examples were explained away as “ornaments,”  “wheel spokes,” “four winds of the earth,” “stars ” or “ alignment marks.”    The basis for this activity appears to be an anti-Semitic attitude and the desire to promote their own “orthodoxy.” 

 The political pressure to keep the “history” secret was tremendous, as described by archeologist Charles Ganneau in 1873 upon discovering ancient crosses (Figure 3) on tombs and ossuaries dated to about 15 AD:

“I do not think it can be anything other than the sign of the cross, but I do not overlook the difficulties which beset that view, considering our…ideas …to the earliest period at which the cross was recognized as the emblem of Christianity…  If this cross is really a Christian symbol, we must … admit that the chronological rules upon which all archeologists have hitherto justly agreed with regard to Christian monuments do not apply…”   Archaeological Researches in Palestine During the Years 1873 - 1874, by Charles Clermont-Ganneau, p. 403-4. 

 


Figure  3.

Ganneau’s  Sketch of Cross in Bethany tomb


Figure  4.

Headstone at the Mt of Olives tomb.
From JCR Vol 9, Issue 2. 

Additional archeological evidence includes the headstone of a tomb (Figure 4) that has a simple cross cut into the stone.  This was reported in the Jerusalem Christian Review, Volume 9, Internet Edition, Issue 2.  This find was located at the entrance of the “Mt of Olives” tomb discovered in 1953.   It was also reported that several of the ossuaries in the tomb had sketches of crosses on them and that the tomb was used by Christians until 70 AD. 

So, what is the earliest known use of the cross as a symbol of the Messiah?   The evidence trail begins with a recent archeological find -- the “Dead Sea Scrolls.”  One of the most spectacular finds of the Dead Sea Scrolls was an intact version of Isaiah dated 150 BC.  The document was believed to be transcribed by the Essenes from a version written in 350 BC. 

An interesting feature of the document is a series of scribal marks in the margins.  The marks included dots, dashes, “hats”, and most importantly, crosses.   The crosses were actually the Hebrew letter “Tav” which appears to indicate verses related to the End Times and Messiah.   There are about 10 instances of the Tav used in this fashion.  The literal translation of “Tav” is covenant or symbol.  So, the logical conclusion is that these scribal marks are the earliest known correlation between the “Cross” and the “Messiah.”  Example of these marks can be seen below in Figure 5 followed by the interpretation from Fred P. Miller:


Figure  5.

Tav in the margins of the Great Scroll of Isaiah. Image from article by Fred Miller.

The verses (54:16 – 17) discuss the End Times and the protection God gives to Israel.

      “(16.) Behold, I have created  the craftsman who blows the coals in the fire, and who brings out  an implement  for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. (17.) No weapon that is formed against you  shall succeed;

 

And verses (55:3-5) discuss the Messiah

 

“(3.) Extend your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, the faithful mercies of David. (4.) Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. (5.) Behold, a nation that you do not know you shall call, and a nation that you have not known  shall run to you because of YHWH your God, and the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”   Isaiah 54:11 – 55: 4 from “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll,” All text and translation Copyright © by Fred P Miller 2001.

The Hebrew tav took many shapes and forms as seen in Figure 6.   This is discussed in texts such as “The Ancient Hebrew Alphabet,” by Seekins, and “Treasury of Jewish Coins” by Meshorer.  The most common examples were:


Figure  6.

Examples of the ancient Hebrew letter tav.

 

Earliest Numismatic Uses of the Cross

From the Diaspora

          It was after 150 BC that the “cross” began showing up on coins.   First, they appeared on coins in the Diaspora, then on coins of the Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties.   Geographical locations of “cross” in the Diaspora are shown on the map in Appendix II.  Several examples of these coins are shown in Figure 7 below: 

150 BC - India

150 BC - Thrace, countermark

120 BC - Ptolemy VIII, Egypt-Cyprus

123 BC - Zabinas, Syria

60 BC - Argolis, Greece

50 BC - Celtic, France

45 BC - Mauretania

38 BC - Parthia

35 BC - Celtic, France

25 BC - Azes, Scythia

14 BC - Bosporus

12 BC - Persis

6 BC - Zephyrion

2 BC - Nabataea

Figure 7. 

Examples of coin from the Diaspora showing the Hebrew tav or cross

The coins above are presented only to show the symbol and the diversity of the locations.   What could possibly motivate or coordinate such different nations – a world apart -- to use the same “+” symbol?    It was a major challenge to find a common thread between such independent nations with disparate peoples.   The only common characteristic found was the migration of the Jewish people to these areas in the preceding centuries – this dispersion is known as the Diaspora.

One coin (Figure 8), however, deserves more explanation.   It is a potin (lead alloy) coin from Celtic Gaul dated to about 30 BC.   It shows a crescent and star at top, a “wavy” line that dissects the coin with one cross above the wavy line and two crosses below the wavy line.  There is a straight line toward the bottom held up by hatched lines.   The best information about the meaning of these symbols resulted in my interpretation seen below the image.   First, the crescent moon and star represents the “Star out of  Jacob” from Numbers 24.   Next, Meshorer for example, suggests that wavy lines are the curtain separating the Holy of Holies (or Heaven from earth).   Third, The Testament of Judah and Damascus Document both make numerous references to “Two Messiahs”  --   a concept  considered prophetical prior to the Maccabean rebellion.  Here are excerpts: 

“ ... during the time of ungodliness until the appearance of the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel ”    [Damascus document 12.23-13.1]

  “This is the exact statement of the ordinances in which they walk until the Messiah of Aaron and Israel appears and expiates their iniquity.”    [Damascus document 14.18-19]

  “Those who heed Him are the poor of the flock; they will be saved at the time of visitation. But others will be delivered up to the sword at the coming of the Messiah of Aaron and Israel.”     [Damascus document 19.9-11]

 “My children, be obedient to Levi and to Judah. Do not exalt yourselves about these two tribes because from them will arise the Savior from God. For the Lord will raise up from Levi someone as a high-priest and from Judah someone as king. He will save all the gentiles and the tribe of Israel.”   [Testament of Simeon 7.1-2]                 

   So, the design of this coin clearly anticipates the coming Messiahs and connects them to the symbol of the cross as well as the relationship between the Messiah and God and their relationship between Heaven and earth.


Figure  8.

Potin Celtic coin showing the Hebrew tav representing God and the coming Messiahs. (numismatic experts say this design is nothing more than a “stylized horse.”)

 

Maccabean/Hasmonean

Beginning about 167 BC, a Judean rebel group lead by Mattathias the Hasomonean and his son, Judah Maccabee, defeated the Seleucids and cleansed the temple.   The victorious Maccabees in 163BC returned a sovereign nation back to Jewish people that hadn’t existed for centuries.   This ultimately resulted in rulers that took both titles:  “King” and “High Priest.”     This rejected the theology of two Messiahs and plainly shows that one person could fulfill both roles.  

Each Hasmonean ruler proudly displayed the dual titles on their coins.  A few coins actually displayed the “tav” as seen in Figure 9 below.  John Hyrcanus, in about 135 BC, was the first to use the duel titles and was subsequently followed by Aristobalus, Janneaus, Salome,  Hyrcanus II, Aristobalus II, and ended with Mattathias Antigonus in 37 BC.  

Figure 9.    Hasmoneon use of the tav on coins from 135 BC to 37BC

106 BC - Hyrcanus

103 BC - Janneaus Imitative

76 BC - Janneaus Imitation

67 BC - Hyrcanus II

37 BC - Mattathias Antigonas

37 BC - Mattathias (Image courtesy Menorah Coin Project)

The coins and situation concerning Mattathias Antigonus deserves extra attention.   It is very interesting that two “tavs” appear in his name are arranged on his coins so that both variations of the tav are shown -  the (+) and (x).    In this fashion, the “priesthood” and “kingdom,” traits found in Numbers 24:17, are shown on his coins.   The following images show an 8-prutot coin from Mattathias:

Figure 10.

Bronze 8-prutah coin from Mattathias about 40BC.  Obverse shows 2 cornucopias with the paleo - Hebrew inscription  מתתיה הכהן הג והי הו ים    or  “Mattathias the High Priest and Council of the Jews”   The reverse shows a wreath surrounded by the Greek inscription BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIΓONOY  interpreted as “of King Antigonus.”

            Mattathias was defeated in 37BC by Herod thus ending the Hasmoneon Dynasty.   eliminated the whole concept of a “2-messiah” package and squarely posited the possibility of a one-person Messiah fulfilling both roles as King and High priest.   This manifested itself 30 years later with the Temple encounters of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) who proclaimed Yeshua (Jesus)  as “Your salvation” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Herod the Great

 Herod was a usurper to the throne.   He was motivated by power and money and the result of his reign was the betrayal of the sovereign Jews.    Herod had no allegiance to Jewish worship or tradition.   One of his first acts as king after defeating Mattathias was to insert political hacks into the High Priest position which ended the Zadokite lineage.   Herod seized on the opportunity to make the sacrificial system and money changing operation a profit center for his administration.   Herod began a complete restoration of the Temple itself about 18 BC but was completed decades later.    It was into this corrupt temple operation that Yeshua (Jesus) was born.

             Surprisingly, coins of Herod convey the anticipation of the Messiah within the remnant of dedicated Jewish religious beleivers.    The main mint in Jerusalem produced small denomination bronzes that were crudely made.   The design of these coins was relatively simple as nearly all reflected temple life in some fashion.  However, there are two of the designs clearly show the anticipation and commemoration of  the arrival of the Messiah.   One prutah is designed with a diadem on the obverse and a sacrificial table on the reverse.  This design exists both with and without the cross (tav) within the diadem.    This has to indicate the anticipation (no tav) and arrival (with tav) of the Messiah.  What or who else could possibly be so royal or divine that coins are designed specifically for their presence?    

The other prutah design shows crossed  lulavs (palm branches) and the sacrificial table.   The designs are shown with both un-opened and opened lulavs --  indicating the absence or presence of the Messiah.   A couple of variations of the diadem/table design are shown in Figure 11:

Figure 11.  Prutot of Herod showing diadems with and without the cross

No tav = No Messiah yet

Tav in diadem = Messiah arrived

The most likely dates for the diadem coins without the tav are 18 BC to 10 BC while the date for the “Messiah has arrived” coins is 6 BC based on the work by Dr. Molnar in his book on the Star of Bethlehem.

A corresponding coin design, displaying the palm fronds, was minted in Jerusalem in the same time period as the diadem coins.   Open palm fronds represent victory while un-opened palm fronds indicate the anticipation of victory.   Notice also that the palms are arranged in the shape of the cross.

Figure 12:   Prutah of herod showing opened and unopened lulavs

Unopened lulavs  = No victory or Messiah

Opened lulavs  = Victorious Messiah has arrived

In the century after Herod’s death, numerous political and religious leaders influenced policy and laws.   The Roman’s began the use of Prefects for governing Judaea, the Jewish religious leaders continued temple worship until 70 AD, and Christianity was growing through the known world.  Persecution of the Christians began with the Jewish hierarchy soon after the Messiah’s death and resurrection.    In 49 AD, Emperor Claudius issued an edict which protected the Christians from Jewish persecution.   Roman persecution of the Christians began in earnest in 64 AD when Nero blamed them for the fire in Rome. 

The Jewish uprisings in 66 AD and 132 AD resulted in the near annihilation of the Jewish race.   Roman persecution of the Messianic Jews (the Christians) ramped up during the reign of Trajan and Hadrian leaving only pockets of Christians throughout the Roman Empire.   But before these groups were wiped out or dispersed, the use of particular symbols, especially the cross, continued.

 

First Century AD Christians

             For the first hundred years after Christ’s life, the vast majority of new Christians were Jewish.   Numismatic evidence strongly suggests that this group of Messianic Jews kept the upright version of the tav (+) as the sign of the promised Messiah.  The various locations of the coins displaying the “+” align neatly with the Jewish and Samaritan Diaspora.  

Figure 13:    Use of the cross on coins after Christ’s death and resurrection

15 AD - Bethany Ossuary

15 AD - Judaea

40 AD - Kushan Imitation

40 AD - Elymais (Kuwait)

40 AD - Gondophares India

45 AD - Persia

42 AD - Talpiot Tomb Judaea

50 AD - Persis

 

60 AD - India

74 AD - Gadara (Judaea)

80 AD - Ascalon (Judaea)

First Century AD Jews

          While most of the new Christians were Jews, there remained a large Jewish population who rejected the divinity of Yeshua (Jesus) and  continued with temple worship.  It follows that they continued to look for their Messiah.   Nearly all the coins of the prefects use the “x” tav outside a wreath to indicate that the Messiah has yet to arrive.    Examples of this use of the tav is shown in the following figure.  This continued until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.

Figure 14.  Use of the Jewish tav after Christ’s birth to 70 AD

2 AD - Archelaus Judaea

6 AD - Archelaus Judaea

20 AD - Valerius Judaea

30 AD - Pilate Judaea

54 AD - Felix Judaea

56 AD - Festus Judaea

 

Bar Kochba Coin

Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in 70 AD and the temple period ended.   Persecution of Christians was now widespread by the Romans and little or no evidence of religious symbols are seen in any ossuaries, jewelry or coins for the next 150 years.   However, there was a significant use of the cross during the Bar Kochba  uprising 132 – 135 AD.   Simon Bar Kochba led a rebellion and captured Jerusalem.  He preached that he was the promised Messiah and began to rebuild the temple.   However, Hadrian’s forces totally annihilated the rebels and nearly wiped the Jewish race off the earth.   During Bar Kochba’s brief reign he minted several coins, one of which he placed the cross above the Holy of Holies to signify that he was the promised Messiah.


Figure 15.

Shekel or tetradrachm of Bar Kochba.  Sign of the Messiah is placed above the Ark.

 

Abgar of Edessa, Mesopotamia

          There is one more coin displaying an early cross that is worth discussing.   It is a rare and important coin that commemorates cooperation between Abgar VIII and Commodus after Commodus came to power in 177 AD.  The obverse show Abgar facing right wearing a tiara with a cross in the middle.    Interestingly, it has been about 100 years since the last use of this cross on a coin.  Mesopotamia was an area that had a high Jewish population but had become a Christian stronghold until Muslim rule in 630 AD.   It is well documented that many kings in the Abgar lineage were professed Christians.  

          There are many legends originating from Edessa.   One legend concerns correspondence between Abgar V and Yeshua himself in which the King is healed of leprosy.   A second legend tells of the “portrait” of the Messiah that Abgar V kept in his study.   This portrait is most likely the Shroud of Turin.

          It is ironic that the righteous character of Abgar VIII is countered by the irresponsible character of Commodus.  Commodus had very poor managerial skills and made horrible financial decisions for the Empire.  Many historians trace the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire to Commodus’ reign.  


Figure 16.

Abgar VIII with cross on Tiara.

 

Conclusions

1.      Historical numismatic evidence supports the notion that three primary symbols, +, X and  , were used to signal the anticipation for the Messiah’s first visit on earth.    Examples can be seen on scrolls, ossuaries, rings and coins in the centuries before and after Christ’s (Yeshua’s) life.   They all appear to be used, as described in Matthew 24:30, as the “the sign of the Son of Man.”

      2.      It is the use of the tav (cross) in the margins of the Great Scroll of Isaiah where the first connection between the cross and Messiah is established.  

      3.      Jews in the Diaspora utilized the tav (+ and x) on coins throughout the known world beginning about 150AD.   Similarly, Jews in Judaea used the same + and x symbols up to the time of Herod in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming.

      4.      New Christians in the first century after Yehsua’s death and resurrection used the upright tav (+) to acknowledge the Messiah’s time on earth.  The simple cross can be seen on numerous coins throughout the known world from about 40 AD to 80 AD.

5.      Jews who refused to accept Yeshua as the Messiah continued to use the “x” version of the tav until about 70 AD when the temple was destroyed.  This sign can be seen on nearly all the coins of the Prefects and is displayed outside the wreath on the reverse. 

      6.      Numismatic evidence soundly rejects the Vatican’s stance that the cross didn’t originate until 200 AD.  Further, the first “official” use of the cross (a Latin cross) as seen on the follis of Constantine the Great in  334AD was contrived and not based on any historical facts.

 

References

Catholic Encyclopedia,  “Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix.”  Marucchi, O. (1908). New York: Robert Appleton Company.  Retrieved from newadvent.org

Constantine the Great, Grant, M. Barnes & Noble, 1993

Archaeological Researches in Palestine During the Years 1873 - 1874, by Charles Clermont-Ganneau,

Jerusalem Christian Review, Volume 9, Internet Edition, Issue 2. 2001

“The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll,” Miller, F. P., Moellerhaus Publishers, 2001.

Ancient Hebrew Alphabet,  Seekins, Frank,  Hebrew World, 2004.

Treasury of Jewish Coins, Meshorer, Ya’akov, Ya Ben-Zvi Press, 2001

A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, from The Israel Antiquities Authority, Rahmani, L.Y., 1994

The Earliest Christian Artifacts, Hurtado, L., Eerdman’s Publishing, 2006

 

Appendix I. Chronology of Major Jewish & Christian Symbols
Symbol First Use Symbol Names Comments
+ or X 150 BC  Cross, simple cross, tav The Hebrew tav means symbol, covenant, or promise.  Found on coins throughout the Diaspora in the Mediterranean and Middle East in anticipation of  the Messiah.  After Yeshua’s death, the + appears to be used by early Christians while the X was used by Jews until 70 AD.  Found on coins, ossuaries, scrolls and rings.   The + was later incorrectly called the Greek cross.
File:Staurogram.svg 76 BC  Tau-rho monogram, staurogram, rho cross, christogram Used by Samaritans as a sign of the Taheb.   Found on coins throughout the Samaritan Diaspora in the years before Yeshua’s birth.  It is a pictorial representation of Yeshua on the cross.  Found on ossuaries and later in scriptures as abbreviation for “crucifixion.”  Extensive use by Christians into modern times but mistaken as a variation of the chi-rho.
37 BC  Menorah The Menorah was part of the earliest Hebrew worship in the Tabernacle and then into the first Temple.  There are several early examples of the Menorah etched in stone but this is the first use on a coin.
6 AD  Aries Star Thought to commemorate Yeshua’s birth.  Symbolic of the heavenly alignment seen by the Magi.  Found only on coins from Antioch until about 250 AD.
http://www.gocek.org/christiansymbols/images/anchrcrs.gif 100 AD  Anchor Usually used in conjunction with fish.  Found in catacombs and on rings.  Meaning comes from Hebrews, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
100 AD  Christian Fish, Icthus Found mostly on rings and in the catacombs.  Typically meant to be a symbol of Yeshua himself.   All ancient examples of Christian fish show gills, fins and scales.  Often shown in conjunction with an anchor or  Jonah.  No stick fish seen.
http://www.seiyaku.com/images/cross/iota-chi.png 200 AD  Iota chi First seen on coins from Severus and in catacombs.  Meant to be a cipher for Jesus Christ ( Ιησουσ  Χριστοσ)
200 AD  Good Shepherd Seen almost exclusively in the catacombs.  Also found in a some Medieval and Renaissance art.
205 AD  Greek Cross (tapered arms) Tapered arms first seen in the Catacombs and later on coins and jewelry.    Still has the meaning of the sign of the Messiah.  Used extensively in art and décor into modern times.
http://ts1.mm.bing.net/images/thumbnail.aspx?q=1282017006728&id=4c6f39692e523cf0c5ac0cc00ab211c7&url=http%3a%2f%2f4.bp.blogspot.com%2f_-rS5pXNsudg%2fSwb0z0Y0puI%2fAAAAAAAAAZA%2f8In_Gak43y0%2fs1600%2f600px-Cross-Pattee-Heraldry.svg.png or File:Cross-Potent-Heraldry.svg 317 AD  Greek Cross (flared arms) First seen on coins of Constantine and in catacombs.    Still has the meaning of the sign of the Messiah.  Used extensively on coins and art into modern times.
File:Simple Labarum2.svg 326 AD  Chi Rho, Christogram First seen on a coin from Constantine.  Claimed to the symbol given to Constantine by God in 312 AD.  Heavy use in catacombs and coins until about 450 AD.  Used extensively in art and décor into modern times.  Cipher for the first two letters of Cristos (xpiστωσ).
334 AD  Latin Cross First used on coins of Constantine.  Used extensively into modern times.  Modeled after Helena’s “true cross.”  Meant to reflect the suffering of Christ.
α - ω
Α - Ω
350 AD  Alpha-Omega Used in conjunction with the tau-rho and chi-rho monograms.  Used extensively in the catacombs and coinage after 350 AD.  Common part of sanctuary decor in modern times.

 

Appendix II. Map of Diaspora showing coins with signs of the Messiah

 

 

Maccabean/Hasmonean Era


Judaean Kingdom, John Hyrcanus I, AE Prutah, 135-104 BC
(Yehohanan the High Priest and the Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend in four lines, enclosed within wreath terminating in cross with four pellets between arms
(No legend)
Double-cornucopiae, pomegranate between
14mm x 15mm, 2.20g
Hendin 457; Meshorer Group N
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Notes: I'm inclined to think the pellets around the cross are actually berries from the wreath since the celator took time to engrave berries for all of the other leaf segments.


Judaean Kingdom, John Hyrcanus I, AE Prutah, 135-104 BC
(Yehohanan the High Priest and the Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend in five lines, enclosed within wreath terminating in cross
(No legend)
Double-cornucopiae, pomegranate between
14mm x 15mm, 2.46g
Hendin 1133
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Imitative of Judaean Kingdom, Alexander Jannaeus, AE Prutah, 103-76 BC
(Yehonatan the High Priest and the Council of the Jews)
Corrupted Aramaic legend enclosed within wreath
(No legend)
Double-cornucopiae, pomegranate and cross between horns
14mm x 15mm, 2.24g
cf. Hendin 1149
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Imitative of Judaean Kingdom, Alexander Jannaeus, AE Prutah, 103-76 BC
AΛEΞANΔPOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Corrupted Greek legend surrounding circle enclosing anchor
(Alexander the King)
Corrupted Aramaic
11mm x 13mm, 0.70g
cf. Hendin 1155
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Alexander Jannaeus, AE Prutah, 103-76 BC, Jerusalem Mint
BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOY
Legend around anchor within border of dots
(Aramaic inscription for Yehonatan the King)
Wheel with eight ray-like spokes, legend between rays
13mm x 15mm, 1.75g
Hendin 1151
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, John Hyrcanus II, AE Prutah, 67 BC
(Yonatan the High Priest and the Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend enclosed within wreath
(No legend)
Double-cornucopiae, pomegranate and cross between
14mm x 15mm, 2.65g
cf. Hendin 1159
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Mattathias Reign


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 8-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend surrounding double cornucopiae and between horns
BACIΛEOC ANTIΓONOY
Legend surrounding ivy wreath tied at top with ribbons hanging down
23mm x 24mm, 13.33g
Hendin 481; Treasury 36a
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 8-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend surrounding double cornucopiae, pomegranate between horns
BACIΛEOC ANTIΓONOY
Legend surrounding ivy wreath tied at top with ribbons hanging down
24mm, 13.41g
cf. Hendin 481 for type
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 8-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews)
Aramaic legend surrounding double cornucopiae and between horns
BACIΛEOC ANTIΓONOY
Legend surrounding ivy wreath tied at top with ribbons hanging down
24mm x 25mm, 12.08g
Hendin 481; Treasury 36a
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 4-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest)
Aramaic legend surrounding cornucopiae
BACIΛ / ANTIΓO
Legend in two lines within wreath
18mm x 20mm, 6.49g
Hendin 1163
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 4-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest)
Aramaic legend surrounding cornucopiae
BACIΛ / EOC AN / TIΓONO
Legend in three lines within wreath
18mm x 20mm, 7.11g
Hendin 1163
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 4-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest)
Aramaic legend surrounding cornucopiae
BACIΛ / EOC AN / TIΓONO
Legend in three lines within wreath
18mm x 20mm, 7.05g
Hendin 1163
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (40-37 BC), AE 4-Prutot, Jerusalem Mint
(Mattatayah the High Priest)
Aramaic legend surrounding cornucopiae
BACIΛ / EOC AN / TIΓONO
Legend in three lines within wreath
18mm, 6.17g
Hendin 1163
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

From the Diaspora


Celtic, Carnutes, AE Unit, c.60-50 BC, Beauce Region in Gaul
(No legend)
Head right with flowing hair and pellets, in beaded border
(No legend)
Pegasus right, beaded mane, cross below with pellets between each arm
15mm x 18mm, 2.66g
BN 4216-4217; de la Tour 2603
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Bactrian and Indo-Scythian Kingdoms, Azes I (58-19 BC), AR Drachm, c.55-35 BC
BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY / AZOY
Azes I, in military dress, Nike in right hand, advancing right on horseback, monogram in right field
Kharosthi legend (Rajadirajasa Mahatasa Ayasa)
Zeus standing left, Nike in right hand
Monograms in left and right fields
14mm x 15mm, 2.30g
Morgan --; ISCH 105/273D; Mitchener 856
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Bactrian and Indo-Scythian Kingdoms, Azes I (58-19 BC), AR Drachm, c.55-35 BC
BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY / AZOY
Azes I, in military dress, crown in right hand, advancing right on horseback, monogram in right field
Kharosthi legend (Rajadirajasa Mahatasa Ayasa)
Zeus standing left, Nike in right hand, transverse staff in left
Monograms in left and right fields
15mm x 16mm, 1.81g
Morgan --; ISCH 105/198D
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Bactrian and Indo-Scythian Kingdoms, Azes I (58-19 BC), AR Drachm, c.55-35 BC
BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY / AZOY
Azes I, in military dress, crown in right hand, advancing right on horseback, monogram in right field
Kharosthi legend (Rajadirajasa Mahatasa Ayasa)
Zeus standing left, Nike in right hand, transverse staff in left
Monograms in left and right fields
15mm, 1.74g
ISCH type 105
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Celtic, Durocasses, AE Potin, c.80-50 BC, Dreux Region
(No legend)
Unknown man with flowing hair left, group of cells above each stroke
(No legend)
Crescent moon with star at top, wavy line in center separating three crosses with one above and two below, horizontal line near bottom connected to series of vertical lines
18mm x 19mm, 2.27g
de la Tour 2508; Blanchet, 556, p.491; M. Dhénin, BSFN, 1973, p.424
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Bactrian and Indo-Scythian Kingdoms, Azes I (58-19 BC), AE Trichalkon, c.57-35 BC
BAΣIΛEΩΣ-BAΣIΛEΩN-MEΓAΛOY / AZOY
Azes I, in military dress, axe in right hand, bow in case over left shoulder, advancing right on camel
Kharosthi legend (Rajadirajasa Mahatasa Ayasa)
Zebu standing right
23mm x 24mm across the flats, 6.53g
Senior 81.20; cf. MIG 762A (Unit)
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Kingdom of Persis, Oxathres (Vahshir), AR Hemidrachm, c.Late 1st Century BC
(No legend)
Diademed bust of bearded king left, monogram behind
(Aramaic legend)
King standing right, holding scepter, facing lit altar
13mm x 15mm, 1.97g
Alram 583; K&M 4/21; Sunrise 604; BMC Arabia pg. 220 #6; Sear Greek 6211
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Cilicia-Zephyrion, AE22, c.1st Century BC
(No legend)
Turreted, veiled head of Tyche right
ZE_ΦYPI_ΩTΩ_N
Legend surrounding crossed staves, ΘE / EP below, all in wreath
21mm x 22mm, 6.48g
SNG France 1261
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV (9 BC-40 AD), AE13, 6 BC, Petra
(No legend)
Laureate head of Aretas with long hair right
(No legend)
Two crossed cornucopias, Aramaic H (het) left, X (year 4) between the horns, and H (het) right
13mm x 14mm, 2.17g
Schmitt-Korte --; Meshorer Nabataean --; BMC Arabia --; SNG ANS --
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Note: Dated coins from Aretas IV are very rare and this type is possibly unpublished. Minted in the possible year of Christ's birth of 6 BC.


Kingdom of Persis, Unknown King II (Nambed), AR Hemidrachm, c.1st Century AD
(No legend)
Bust of bearded king left, wearing tiara with side flaps and decorated with cross
(Partial Aramaic legend)
Legend surrounding stylized diadem with ties
12mm x 14mm, 1.50g
Alram 619
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Kingdom of Edessa, Commodus & Abgar VIII (179-214), AE16, 179-192, Mesopotamia-Edessa
AYT-KOMOΔOC
Laureate head of Commodus right
ABΓAPOC-BACIΛIOC
Diademed, draped bust right of Abgar VIII, wearing tiara
15mm, 2.06g
BMC 93, 10. SNG Cop. 193. Lindgren II, 137, 2569
Ex T. Cartwright Collection; Ex Münzen & Medaillen GmbH, Auction 20, Lot 929, October 2006


Imitation of Roman Imperial, Tetricus I/II, AE Antoninianus, 271-274, Likely Gallic Tribes
...CVS P F AVG
Radiate head right
IO...CCI
Cross, securis (axe) or secespita (knife), ewer (jug), and aspergillum (sprinkler) or simpulum (ladle) all on base over wavy line
14mm x 17mm, 1.91g
cf. RIC V, Part II, 258 for reverse type of Tetricus II; obverse of Tetricus I as Augustus
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Herodian Era


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small empty diadem, cross below
(No legend)
Tripod table, beaded border
14mm x 16mm, 1.14g
Hendin 1183 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small empty diadem
(No legend)
Tripod table, beaded border
15mm x 16mm, 1.32g
Hendin 1183 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small empty diadem, beaded border
(No legend)
Tripod table, beaded border
13mm x 15mm, 1.25g
Hendin 1183 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small empty diadem, beaded border
(No legend)
Tripod table, beaded border
14mm x 18mm, 1.68g
Hendin 1183 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE 2 Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small closed diadem enclosing cross, beaded border
(No legend)
Plate on tripod table, flanked by erect palm branches that meet at the top, beaded border
18mm x 20mm, 3.44g
Hendin 1178a; Meshorer TJC 49 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Note: This specimen shows to rare variations - the diadem is closed and the palm branches meet at the top.


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE 2 Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small open diadem enclosing cross, beaded border
(No legend)
Plate on tripod table, flanked by erect palm branches, beaded border
15mm x 18mm, 1.57g
Hendin 1178a; Meshorer TJC 49 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE 2 Prutot, 37-4 BC, Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small open diadem enclosing cross, beaded border
(No legend)
Plate on tripod table, beaded border
12mm x 15mm (across the flats), 1.51g
Hendin 1178a; Meshorer TJC 49 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Lepton (Half Prutot), Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small tripod temple table, beaded border
(No legend)
Crossed palms with closed branches, inside closed diadem
12mm x 14mm, 0.87g
Hendin 1185 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Herod the Great (40-4 BC), AE Lepton (Half Prutot), Jerusalem Mint
HPΩΔOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ
Legend surrounding small tripod temple table, beaded border
(No legend)
Crossed palms with open branches, inside closed diadem
11mm x 13mm, 0.88g
Hendin 1185 
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Judaean Kingdom, Antoninus Felix as Procurator (52-59), Reign of Claudius, Nero and Britannicus, AE Prutah, Year 14 (55 AD), Caesarea Mint
NEPω KΛAV KAICAP
Cross shields
BPIT
Palm tree with clusters of dates, L | IΔ / K | AI across fields
15mm x 16mm, 1.85g
Hendin 1348
Ex T. Cartwright Collection

Note: Normally there would be two spears behind the crossed shields, but I don't see any evidence of them.


Roman Provincial, Judaea-Ascalon, Pseudo-Autonomous Issue under Titus, AE15, Year 176 (72/73 AD)
(No legend)
Draped, turreted, veiled bust of Tyche right
ςΘP / AΣ
War galley right, cross on prow
15mm x 16mm, 3.73g
cf. SNG Copenhagen 29; RPC II 2204 (cross on prow)
Ex T. Cartwright Collection


Roman Provincial, Decapolis-Gadara, Titus (79-81), AE18, Year 137 (73/74 AD)
TITOΣ KA_I_ΣAP
Laureate head right
ΓAΔA_PE_ΩN
Crossed cornucopiae, cross surrounded by eight pellets between horns, Λ ZΛP above
17mm x 19mm, 5.51g
RPC II 2096
Ex T. Cartwright Collection