The name of Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ according to Christian scripture, has been deciphered on a bronze ring discovered some 50 years ago near Bethlehem.
The ancient ring was found in the late 1960s during an archaeological dig at the site of the Herodion fortress, built by Herod the king of Judea.
His name was deciphered on the ring after it, and thousands of other finds, were handed over to the team currently working on the historical site. Pilate was an infamous Roman governor of Jerusalem in the years 26 to 36 who also allegedly ran Jesus trial.
After a thorough cleansing, the ring was photographed using a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority Labs, revealing the crucial name. The stamping ring bears a picture of a wine vessel surrounded by Greek writing that translated into “Pilatus.”
A stamping ring was also a hallmark of status in the Roman cavalry, to which Pilate belonged. Researchers believe it was either used by Pilate in his day-to-day work as governor or by his team to sign his name on official documents.
“I dont know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth,” Professor Danny Schwartz told Haaretz.
Pilatus, the name linked to Pontius Pilate in the New Testament as the man who ordered Jesus crucifixion, was rare in Israel during that era, says Schwartz. Its also not the first find at the site inscribed Pilatus. In the 1960s, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Gideon Forester Forster also unearthed a stone decorated with the name.
Herodian was built by King Herod and after his death it became a huge burial site, however Roman officials ruling over Judea used the upper tier as their administrative headquarters.
Research into the ring was led by Professor Shua Amurai-Stark and Malcha Hershkovitz. They published their findings in the new issue of the Israel Exploration Journal.
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