Archaeologists Find Half Shekel from Temple Times
(IsraelNN.com) Archaeologists working in the City of David in what was once the main drainage channel in Jerusalem have found a silver coin used to pay the half-shekel head tax. The tax was customary during the times of the first and second Temples, and is described in the Torah portion "Ki Tisa" in the book of Shemot (Exodus). The coin is believed to date back to the Second Temple period.
The discovery was made shortly before the holiday of Purim, when Jews give a sum of money as a reminder of the ancient half-shekel tax. While the ancient tax was used to pay for the upkeep of the Temple, the modern sum is traditionally donated to the needy.