2,000-year-old ‘Pilate’ ring might have belonged to notorious Jesus judge

(TIMES OF ISRAEL) An intriguing 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring bearing the inscription “of Pilatus” may be only the second artifact testifying to the historicity of the infamous Pontius Pilate. Unearthed 50 years ago, the ring was overlooked until recently, when it got a good scrub, and a second look.

Pilate, a Roman prefect who ruled the Roman province of Judaea from circa 26–36 CE, is mentioned in several accounts in the New Testament, as having ordered the trial and crucifixion of Yeshua, a Second Temple-period radical preacher from the Galilee, more commonly known as Jesus.

The ring was first found among hundreds of other artifacts in 1968–1969 excavations directed by archaeologist Gideon Foerster, at a section of Herod’s burial tomb and palace at Herodium that was used during the First Jewish Revolt (66–73 CE). Recently, current dig director Roi Porat asked that the engraved copper sealing ring be given a thorough laboratory cleaning and scholarly examination.

The scientific analysis of the ring was published in the stalwart biannual Israel Exploration Journal last week, by the 104-year-old Israel Exploration Society. It was also popularly publicized — with slightly differing conclusions — on Thursday in Haaretz, under the headline “Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank.”

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