In today's society, many are questioning the authenticity of the Bible. That's why it is so exciting to me when archeologists make discoveries that confirm what has been written in the Bible. One such find was the Pilate Inscription in Caesarea, Israel.
There are actually two Caesareas in Israel, Caesarea Philippi and Caesarea Martima (which means "on the sea"). The one we are speaking of today is Caesarea Martima. Both are very important Biblical sites. We'll cover Caesarea Philippi next month.
Caesarea on the Sea
Caesarea was, of course, named in honor of the Caesar Augustus. It was a port city that was founded by Herod the Great around 25-13 B.C. This city is recorded in the historical writings of Josephus, and the ruins are still visible today. After visiting Caesarea Martima in 2012, I couldn't resist writing it in as a location in The Messiah's Sign. It is such a fascinating site.
One interesting note about this city was the sophisticated lighthouse-type structure that stood at it's harbor. A stone tower with a flame at the top guided ships into the marina.
The Pilate Stone
|The ruins of the ancient Roman Theater at Caesarea Martima
In June of 1961, an Italian archeologist was excavating the ancient Roman theater when they came across an interesting limestone block. The team, led by Dr. Frova, uncovered the stone and found upon its face a Latin inscription that reads:
- To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum
- ...Pontius Pilate
- ...prefect of Judea
- ...has dedicated [this]
Support of Biblical Text
This discovery is the first and only mention of Pontius Pilate, the governor that ordered Jesus' crucifixion, on any ancient inscription. It is a very important find, because it verifies the apostle's accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Not only does it record Pilate's name, but also his position, which is agreeable to the Biblical claim in Luke 3:1:
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee...
Historians believe that Pilate most likely used Caesarea as a headquarters, and only traveled to Jerusalem when necessary. This belief is supported by the verse in Luke 23:6-7 which reads:
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.
And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
The fact that Herod was "Also at Jerusalem at that time" would lead us to believe that both Herod and Pilate typically resided elsewhere.
The original Pilate Stone is now housed in the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem, (pictured below), but they have created a replica that rests on-site at Caesarea Martima.
|"Pontius Pilate Inscription" by BRBurton
-Licensed under CC0