Caesarea Maritima: the Pilate inscription (1)


Caesarea Maritima is actually the site of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of all time: the Pilate Inscription (aka: the Pilate stone). It was there in the early 1960’s that the Italian Archaeological Missiona team under the direction of Antonio Frova uncovered a 32″x25″ block of hard limestone with the name “Pontus Pilate” inscribed on it. Yes, the Pontus Pilate named in the New Testament.

While a replica of the block stands on display today at Caesarea Maritima nearby Herod’s theater, the original (pictured above) resides in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A description of the significance of this find accompanying the original block in the Israel Museum reads (with my own notes appearing in [ ]):

“Pontius Pilate was the fifth Roman Procurator of Judea, serving in that capacity in 26-36 CE. Sources describe him as a cruel and unsympathetic ruler who was insensitive to Jewish religious feelings. According to the New Testament, he was the one who sentenced Jesus to be crucified. The inscription presented here is the only object from his time that bears his name. It was found reused in the staircase of the Roman theater [having been placed there in the 300’s CE] of Caesarea, the provincial capital; it was probably originally set into a temple [Tiberium] built in honor of Emperor Tiberius [who ruled from 14-37 CE]. [The inscription reads] … building in honor of] … Tiberius … Pon]tius Pilate … Praef]ect of Judea.”

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