Analysis of a series of Herodian copper coins – the biblical “widow’s mites” – via energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence

Garshott, Danielle., Elizabeth. MacDonald, and Mark. Benvenuto

A series of small, copper coins issued under the authority of King Herod, often called “widow’s mites,” have been analyzed using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy.  The coins are all crudely made, apparently struck and not cast, common in their obverse and reverse iconography, and possessing a coppery look.  The entire sample set was examined via EDXRF on both the obverses and reverses.  The composition of the coins varied, but routinely included a significant majority of copper as the major component.  Smaller but detectable amounts of other metals were also present in the samples.  The findings for the complete set are presented and discussed.