Pilate Inscription
Pilate Inscription
Does this stone contain an inscription from Pontius Pilate?

In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman theater near Caesarea Maritima and uncovered this interesting limestone block.

On the face is an 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 like this:

Line One: TIBERIEUM,
Line Two: (PON) TIUS
Line Three: (PRAEF) ECTUS IUDA (EAE)

The Pilate Inscription is the only known occurrence of the name Pontius Pilate in any ancient inscription. Visitors to the Caesarea theater today see a replica, the original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. There have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate.

The Pontius Pilate Inscription is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology and confirms the Scriptures found in the Bible as historical.

Caesarea, Israel
New Testament Period
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

Matthew 27:1-2 "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led [him] away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."

Luke 3:1-2 "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness."

The Roman historian Tacitus mentions Pontius Pilate only in passing when noting "the execution of Christus, author of that sect, by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius."

Heart Message

The Pilate Inscription

Could it have happened like this?

Along the Mediterranean coast in the provincial capital of Caesarea was the grand theater which hosted extremely popular events such as chariot racing and gladiator games.

A Dramatic Reenactment of Historical Events

Near a special section for dignitaries, in between flights of steps along a nearby aisle, was a landing area with damaged stones that honored guests would be stepping over on their way to and from their seats. It became an embarrassment, and could no longer be tolerated. If anyone of importance were injured, there would be a severe penalty for those in charge.

The orders came down. Make the necessary repairs. But the limestone of original construction was produced centuries ago and no longer available for any reasonable price. The question for the foreman was how to remedy the situation in a cost effective and timely manner without troubling his superiors.

“With no mountains to quarry, we will excavate from the glory of Rome’s past.” said he.

An unattended temple was under demolition to make room for gods more in vogue. A dedication stone from an unremembered governor to a now un-feared Caesar was located with good dimensions. But should such an official stone be used?

“Does Tiberius care from his grave?” the foreman mocked. “I serve a living Caesar whose friends will arrive this week for the games. That ancient Praefect of Judea has already been awarded more honor than any mortal deserves. Use the stone!” he laughed.

The workmen then cut the stone in half, using a two-foot by three-foot slab to repair the landing. The repair was good, lasting for hundreds of years. Guests traveled up and down the stairs, resting upon the repaired landing and taking in a momentary panoramic view they continued on their way up down.

Historical Fact

Centuries later, and having exchanged hands throughout the crusades, the city of Caesarea was finally destroyed in 1265. With the aqueducts disassembled and the city laid waste, the middle eastern winds buried Caesarea beneath eight centuries of sand dunes.

In 1959, a group of Italian-sponsored archaeologists began to excavate. Two years later a curious stone was uncovered on the landing, in between flights of stairs, bearing the name of Pontius Pilate, Praefectus of Judea, thus ending a long standing debate concerning whether a central character mentioned in the biblical narrative ever even existed.

That issue was settled. Yes he existed.


The Procurators of Judaea

The following list of the procurators of Judaea is based on Marquardt (Romische Staatsverwaltung, I, 409, 412) and Schurer (Geschichte des judischen Volkes (4), I, 485-585):

Coponius (6 AD to circa 10 AD)

M. Ambibulus (circa 10-13)

Annius Rufus (circa 13-15)

Valerius Gratus (circa 15-26)

Pontius Pilatus (26-35)

Marcellus (probably 35-38)

Maryllus (38-44)

C. Cuspins Fadus (44-46)

Tiberius Alexander (46-48)

Ventidius Cumanus (48-52)

M. Antonius Felix (52-60 or 61)

NOTE.-Marquardt gives his name as Claudius Felix, supposing that he was a freedman of Claudius and therefore took his nomen (Suetonius, Claudius xxviii; Victor, epitome iv, 8); but there is stronger evidence in support of the belief that Felix was a freedman of Antonia, Claudius' mother, like his brother Pallas (Tacitus, Annals xii.54; Josephus, Ant, XVI11, vi, 4; XX, vii, 1, 2; XX, viii, 9; BJ, II, xii, 8), and accordingly had received the praenomen and nomen of Antonia's father (Josephus, Ant, XVIII, vi, 6).

Portius Festus (61)

Albinus (62-64)

Gessius Florus (65-66)

The Jewish High Priests from 200 B.C to the Reign of Herod the Great

1. Simon II the Just, 220-190 B.C. 
2. Onias III, 190-174 B.C.
3. Jason/Jeshua,175-172 B.C.
4. Menelaus, 172-162 B.C.
5. Alcimus, 162-156 B.C.
6. Jonathan, 153-142 B.C.
7. Simon, 142-135 B.C.
8. John Hyrcanus I, 134-104 B.C.
9. Aristobulus I, 104-103 B.C.
10. Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 B.C.
11. Hyrcanus II, 76-67 B.C.
12. Aristobulus II, 67-63 B.C.
13. Hyrcanus II, 63-40 B.C.
14. Antigonus, 40-37 B.C.

The Jewish High Priests from Herod the Great to the Destruction of Jerusalem

15. Ananel, 37-36 B.C. (Appointed by Herod the Great)
16. Aristobulus III, 35 B.C.
17. Jesus, son of Phiabi, ? -22 B.C.
18. Simon, son of Boethus, 22-5 B.C.
19. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 5-4 B.C.
20. Joseph, son of Elam, 5 B.C.
21. Joezer, son of Boethus, 4 B.C.
22. Eleazar, son of Boethus, 4-1 B.C. - (Appointed by Herod Archelaus)
23. Jesus, son of Sie, 1 - 6 A.D.
24. Annas, 6-15 A.D. (Appointed by Quirinius)
25. Ishmael, son of Phiabi I, 15-16 A.D. (Appointed by Valerius Gratus)
26. Eleazar, son of Annas, 16-17 A.D.
27. Simon, son of Kamithos, 17-18 A.D.
28. Joseph Caiaphas, 18-37 AD.
29. Jonathan, son of Annas, 37 A.D. (Appointed by Vitellius)
30. Theophilus, son of Annas, 37-41 A.D.
31. Simon Kantheras, son of Boethus, 41-43 A.D. (Appointed by Herod Agrippa I)
32. Matthias, son of Annas, 43-44 A.D.
33. Elionaius, son of Kantheras, 44-45 A.D.
34. Joseph, son of Kami, 45-47 A.D. (Appointed by Herod of Chalcis)
35. Ananias, son of Nebedaius, 47-55 A.D.
36. Ishmael, son of Phiabi III, 55-61 A.D. (Appointed by Herod Agrippa II)
37. Joseph Qabi, son of Simon, 61-62 A.D.
38. Ananus, son of Ananus, 62 A.D.
39. Jesus, son of Damnaius, 62-65 A.D.
40. Joshua, son of Gamal iel, 63-65 A.D.
41. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 65-67 A.D.
42. Phinnias, son of Samuel, 67-70 A.D. (Appointed by The People)

Some dates cannot be known for certain.

 


Related Pages:

Pontius Pilate - Prefect of Judea

Pontius Pilate - Devotional

Pontius Pilate Inscription

Pontius Pilate in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

Josephus on Pilate and the Riots

Pontius Pilate in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Caiaphas - Bible History Online

Caiaphas - Life of Jesus

Caiaphas in Unger's Bible Dictionary

Palace of Caiaphas

Caiaphas in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Beersheba in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

Biblical Definition of Beersheba

Altar - Background Bible Study

Altar in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Altar in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia

Israel - The Center of the Ancient World

Israel - Archaeology Links and Resources

The Destruction of Israel in the Old Testament

Archaeological Resources - Israel

Map of Old Testament Israel

Map of New Testament Israel

Bible History Online - Fallen Empires (Biblical Archaeology)

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East : Art & Images

Bible History Online - Ancient Art

The Destruction of Israel - Kings of Israel, Judah and Assyria

Timeline 800 - 700 BC

The Assyrians

The Captivity of Israel

Hebrew History

Ancient Jerusalem

First Century Jerusalem

The Impregnable Strength of Jerusalem

Map of Jerusalem

Jerusalem - Heart Message

Ancient Sketches

 

Fallen Empires - Archaeology and the Bible

Archaeology Discoveries and the Ancient Biblical World 

The Black Obelisk. In the 1840's a British man named Austen Henry Layard had a desire to travel to the Middle East and dig around some of the strange looking mounds near the City of Mosul. He had heard many tales about things being found in these mounds. He was looking for any trace of evidence that would lead him to the lost city of Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire. Little did he know that one of his discoveries would turn Europe upside down with excitement. He discovered a black limestone monument which is known today as The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. This discovery brought a new authenticity and historicity to some of the stories in the Bible. It also gained him the support of the British Museum, and all the finances he needed to continue his excavations, and become known as "The Father of Assyriology."

The Pilate Inscription. It wasn't long ago when many scholars were questioning the actual existence of a Roman Governor with the name of Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. 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 worn 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."

The Megiddo Seal Bearing King Jeroboam's Name. It is very interesting that the Jasper Seal, found at Tel Megiddo bearing the name of King Jeroboam who ruled in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, would contain the symbol for their rival, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. But in examining all of the circumstances involved and seeing what the Bible says it is no wonder that the prosperous and victorious Northern Kingdom of Israel would boast with a symbol of their enemy.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great. An inscription on the tomb of the great Persian monarch read: "O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus". Is it true that Isaiah the Hebrew prophet mention Cyrus by name almost 200 years before he was born?

Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism. This amazing discovery excavated in Nineveh in the 1830 records the Assyrian king Sennacherib's 8th campaign, which includes his siege of Jerusalem during the reign of "Hezekiah the Judahite" in 701 BC. There are 500 lines of writing in the Akkadian language on this magnificent clay prism. Is the story true that it was purchased by an American from an antiquities dealer in Baghdad?

Coming Soon The Ishtar Gate of Babylon. During the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah the Jews were taken captive to a distant land called Babylon at the latter part of the 6th century BC. They passed through a beautiful entrance gate made of mud brick masonry and glazed skin which stood 47 feet tall, commonly referred to as the Ishtar Gate since its discovery at the turn of the 20th century near modern Baghdad, Iraq. The tall gate was dedicated to the gods by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylonia who reigned from 605—562 BC). Is it true that Hitler had it transported to Berlin? Where is the Ishtar Gate now?

[Next] The Remains of Solomon's Temple

Biblical Archaeology

The Bible mentions many things about people, places and events that happened in history. The Bible also gives an accurate chronology of those people, places and events. What is amazing is that modern archaeology has confirmed that the Bible has never made one error, or given any clear contradictions in all of its text in matters of historical fact. The paintings and illustrations below of archaeological discoveries and ruins illustrate this emphatically.

Paintings By Bjanikka Ben and Maliyah Weston

Assyria

Weld Prism

Sargon I Bust

Hammurabi Stele

Colossal Lion of Assyria

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Close up of Jehu - Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Tiglath Pileser III (Pul)

Enemy Trod Under Foot

Sargon II with Staff in Hand

Sargon II Relief

Winged Bull - One Sided

Winged Bull - Two Sided

Assyrian Royal Guard Soldiers of Sennacherib

Lachish Captives Being Skinned Alive

Israelite Captives from Lachish

Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)

Stela of Ashurbanipal

Ruins of Ancient Assyria

Painting of Ancient Ashur

Israel

Moabite Stone

Beersheba Altar

Ivory Pomegranate Fake

Ossuary of Caiaphas

Proto Ionic Capital

El Amarna Letters

House of David Inscription

Korban Inscription

Lachish Letters

Megiddo Seal - Jeraboam Inscription

Pilate Inscription

Place of Trumpeting Inscription

Qumran Jar (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Siloam Inscription

Tel Dan Stele

Temple Warning Inscription

Uzziah Tablet Inscription

Stela of Baal

Gold of Ophir Inscription

Hazael King of Syria Statue

Ancient Caesarea Harbor

Ancient Caesarea Ruins

Ancient Hittite Ruins

Babylon

Striding Lion of Babylon 

Nebuchadnezzar II Cylinder

Lagash Rations Tablet

Ishtar Gate

Nebuchadnezzar II Brick

Babylonian Chronicle

Dragon of Marduk

Lion of Marduk

Detail of the Lion of Marduk

The Royal Standard of Ur

Persia

Tomb of Cyrus

Cyrus Cylinder

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Persepolis Lion

Darius Seated

Darius the Great (Up Close)

Ancient Persians

Ancient Persian Warriors at Susa

Egypt

Pharaoh Kneeling Before Bull

Amenophis II (Also Known as Thutmose-III)

Ramesses II

Shishak Smiting His Enemies

Apis the Sacred Bull of Memphis

Rosetta Stone

The Pyramids

Ramesses II Colossal Statue Painting

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

The Israel Stela

Pharaoh Merneptah Statue

Ancient Egyptian Sphinx

Ancient Egyptian Obelisk

Rome

Bust of Julius Caesar

Bronze Bust of Augustus

Bust of Augustus Caesar

Bust of Tiberius Caesar

Arch of Titus Menorah Relief - 1

Arch of Titus Chariot Relief - 2

Bust of Vespasian

Bust of Titus

Bust of Nero

Roman Legionary Camp

Roman Legion Bricks with Stamp

Ancient Roman Eagle

Ancient Roman Aqueduct

Ancient Roman Legions

Ancient Roman Milestone

The Arch of Titus

The Colosseum

Greece

Alexander the Great Bust

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Coin

The Parthenon Ruins

The Ancient Parthenon of Athens

Antiochus IV Epiphanes Bust

Alexander the Great Coin

Greek Macedonian Infantry Helmet

Ancient Persian Soldiers

Peoples

Canaanite

Chaldean

Cilician

Indian

Ionian

Mede

Persian

Philistine

(More to come)

Illustrated Bible History A growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.
Bible Maps A growing database of maps for study and teaching.

Reconstructions Sketches of ancient cities & monuments from archaeology.

Archaeology Resources:

The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Holden and Geisler. 352 Pages, 2012

Biblical Archaeology

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible


© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)

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