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
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.
New Testament Period
Pontius Pilate, (26-37 AD)
82.0 cm H, 65.0 cm W
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."
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
“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
“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
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)
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)
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
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
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
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
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.
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
in Easton's Bible Dictionary
in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia
Biblical Definition of Beersheba
- Background Bible Study
Smith's Bible Dictionary
Altar in the
ISBE Bible Encyclopedia
Israel - The Center of the Ancient World
Archaeology Links and Resources
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 Captivity of Israel
The Impregnable Strength of Jerusalem
Map of Jerusalem
Jerusalem - Heart Message