Sunday, November 21, 2004

archaeological evidence of Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate inscription
Caesarea, Israel, Pontius Pilate, (26-37 AD)
Limestone, inscribed 82.0 cm H, 65.0 cm W
Building Dedication 4 Lines of Writing (Latin)
Date of Discovery: 1961
Israel Museum (Jerusalem) AE 1963 no. 104

"In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from 'Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.'"

It reads as follows:

  • first line: TIBERIEUM
  • second line: (PON) TIUS
  • third line: (PRAEF) ECTUS IUDA (EAE)

"This is the only known occurrence of the name Pontius Pilate in any ancient inscription. Visitors to Caesarea's theater today see a replica, the original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It is interesting as well that there have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate."

Historical information regarding Pontius Pilate is found in the New Testament, two Jewish writers: Josephus and Philo of Alexandria, as well as Tacitus. Flavius Josephus discusses in detail the career of Pilate. Tacitus, when speaking of the cruel punishments inflicted by Nero upon the Christians, tells us that Christ, from whom the name "Christian" was derived, was put to death when Tiberius was emperor by the procurator Pontius Pilate (Annals xv.44).


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