The name of Pilate deciphered on a ring discovered 50 years ago
The ring is engraved with a wine vessel surrounded by Greek letters spelling out “Pilatus”. Those rings were used to stamp official documents.
Haaretz · 30 NOVEMBER 2018 · 17:00 CET
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has announced that the name of Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the province of Judea, serving under Rome from 26 C.E. to 36 C.E, has been identified on a bronze ring discovered 50 years ago.
The ring was originally found by Hebrew University Professor Gideon Forster shortly after the Six-Day War in 1968-69, at the Herodion site near Bethlehem, the residency of Herod, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.
However, the inscription been been deciphered now, with the use of a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority labs.
It is a small bronze ring, with an image of a wine vessel surrounded by the name “Pilate” in Greek engraved on it.
Hebrew University Professor, Danny Schwartz, told Haaretz that Pilatus was a rare name in Israel: “I don’t know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth”.
That kind of ring was common in ancient times to seal letters and stamp official documents, so that researchers believe it was used by the governor in day-to-day work, or belonged to one of his officials or someone in his court, who would use it to sign in his name.
The Herodion fortress, where the ring was found, was built by King Herod. Following his death, it became a huge burial site, but part of the complex continued to be used by Roman officials. Experts say that Pilate might have used it as an administrative headquarters.