Pavement Stone at
Fortress of Antonia
Fortress of Antonia Roman Pavement Stone
Excavated in Jerusalem
This stone was,
according to Church tradition, part of the Roman Pavement at Jesus'
Trial. It was discovered at the site of the Fortress of Antonia
which was connected to the Jerusalem Temple at the NW corner. The
large rectangular paving stone was part of a large limestone
pavement courtyard and this particular stone has evidence of a game
board that might have been used by Roman soldiers.
The Bible mentions in John 19:13
the "Pavement" were Pontius Pilate had his judgment seat outside the
Praetorium. It was called in Hebrew "Gabbatha", and the Greek
word is "Lithostroton" which means paved with stones. It was here
that Pontius Pilate brought Jesus and presented him before the
Jewish people. Pilate said to them "behold your king" and they
all shouted "crucify him" and he said to them "shall I crucify your
king" and the chief priests replied "we have no king but Caesar".
It is impossible to know with
certainty whether "the pavement" mentioned in John 19:13 was located
at the citadel on the west side of the city of Jerusalem near the
modern Jaffa Gate, or at the Antonia Fortress located at the NW
corner of the Temple, the site of the earlier Hasmonean fortress..
Pilate's Residence in Jerusalem
There were two primary residences
of Herod in Jerusalem that Pontius Pilate might have stayed during
the Passover: one was adjacent to the three towers at the citadel
near the west end of the city, and the other was the Fortress of
Antonia which was connected to the Jerusalem Temple at the NW
corner. Only the Fortress of Antonia contained a limestone
pavement according to archaeology. There was excavated a large stone
pavement (105 x 155 feet) which has portions located under three
buildings, The Convent of the Flagellation, The Convent of Our Lady
of Sion, and The Greek Orthodox Convent.
"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he
brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place
that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was
the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he
saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with
[him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I
crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but
Caesar. - John 19:13-15
The Place of Jesus' Trial?
According to later Church tradition
the Praetorium was at the Antonia Fortress where Pontius Pilate
judged Jesus, but it is also possible that Jesus was judged at the
Herodian fortress on the opposite end (NW) of the city near the
modern Jaffa Gate. Herod's palace was the official residence of the
Roman procurator's when they came to Jerusalem during the major
Jewish festivals. Many scholars favor the Antonia Fortress because
of the balconies overlooking the Temple Court. There is also mention
in John 19:13 of "the pavement" as the site of the trial. The Via
Dolorosa assumes that the Antonia Fortress is the site of the trial
of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. The statements of Josephus are very
convincing that the headquarters of the Roman procurator were at
Herod's palace. See International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Two possible praetorium sites in
Jerusalem have been proposed: the Antonia Fortress and Herod's
Palace. Early pilgrims to Jerusalem generally identified the
praetorium with the Antonia Fortress, where the traditional Way of
the Cross begins. The archaeological evidence, which dates the
fortress remnants to the 2nd century AD, as well as the tense
situation requiring Pilate to be near the Second Temple as the
center of Passover activity, support the Antonia Fortress location.
Catholic Encyclopedia - Praetorium)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Praetorium)
in Fausset's Bible Dictionary. (gab' buh tha) English
transliteration of Greek transliteration of Aramaic place name
meaning, “elevation.” A platform in front of the praetorium or
governor's palace in Jerusalem, where Pilate sat in judgment over
Jesus (John 19:13), pronouncing the sentence to crucify Jesus.
Before announcing the decision, however, Pilate introduced Jesus as
King of the Jews, giving the Jewish leaders one last chance to
confess their Messiah. The Greek name for the place was lithostrotos,
or “stone pavement.” The location is either the fortress Antonia or
Herod's palace. Tourists see the Antonia site at the present Convent
of the Sisters of Zion, but archaeologists have dated the pavement
there later than Jesus' time.
in Smith's Bible Dictionary. (elevated; a platform) the Hebrew
or Chaldee appellation of a place, also called "Pavement," where the
judgment-seat or bema was planted, from his place on which Pilate
delivered our Lord to death. Joh 19:13 It was a tessellated platform
outside the praetorium, on the western hill of Jerusalem, for Pilate
brought Jesus forth from thence to it.
in Easton's Bible Dictionary. Gab Baitha, i.e., "the ridge of
the house" = "the temple-mound," on a part of which the fortress of
Antonia was built. This "temple-mound" was covered with a tesselated
"pavement" (Gr. lithostroton, i.e., "stone-paved"). A judgement-seat
(bema) was placed on this "pavement" outside the hall of the "praetorium"
(q.v.), the judgment-hall (John 18:28; 19:13).
The ISBE Bible Encyclopedia. gab'-a-tha: Given (Jn 19:13) as the
name of a special pavement (to lithostroton), and is probably a
transcription in Greek of the Aramaic gabhetha', meaning "height" or
"ridge." Tradition which now locates the Pretorium at the Antonia
and associates the triple Roman arch near there with the "Ecce Homo"
scene, naturally identifies an extensive area of massive Roman
pavement, with blocks 4 ft. x 3 1/2 ft. and 2 ft. thick, near the
"Ecce Homo Arch," as the Gabbatha. This paved area is in places
roughened for a roadway, and in other places is marked with incised
designs for Roman games of chance. The site is a lofty one, the
ground falling away rapidly to the East and West, and it must have
been close to, or perhaps included in, the Antonia. But apart from
the fact that it is quite improbable that the Pretorium was here
(see PRAETORIUM), it is almost certain that the lithostroton was a
mosaic pavement (compare Est 1:6), such as was very common in those
days, and the site is irretrievably lost.
The Protector of Jerusalem
Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the
righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
Herod the Great built the Antonia fortress to protect the
city, should an enemy breach its mighty walls. This no doubt
pleased the Jews because the leaders of the day had not
trusted in the Lord to be their protector. They had trusted
in the arm of the flesh to protect them, and their wonderful
city Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth. God had prepared
them as a bride to receive their Messiah and when He arrived
their hearts were hardened. They were ruled by greed and
were envious of the Messiah’s favor with the common people.
Proverbs 18:11 "The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and as an high wall in his own conceit."
Jesus was their true
protector and they rejected Him. They turned Him over to
Pontius Pilate who was the Roman Governor of Judea from 26 –
37 A.D. He came on the scene about the same time that Jesus
began His public ministry. Although his official residence
was in Caesarea, he would reside in Jerusalem during the
Passover feast to maintain order. Pontius Pilate was a cruel
and brutal man with a thirst for blood as the other Roman
rulers of his time including the emperors. It is recorded in
the Bible and in historical documents that Pilate had
mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices (Luke
It is interesting how the
humble man Jesus had made such a powerful impression upon
the not so gentle ruler Pontius Pilate. Whether Jesus was a
man of dark skin with a hooked nose, according to one
tradition, or a man of light skin with long blonde hair,
according to another tradition, there was no doubt something
awesome about His countenance. Even with a bloodied face and
a crown of thorns upon His head, Pilate feared Him.
Pilate did not want to
crucify Jesus and would only have Him scourged, that is
until the Jewish leaders threatened to report him to Caesar.
Pilate finally consented to their pressure and ordered Jesus
Proverbs 18:12 "Before destruction the heart of man is
haughty, and before honour is humility."
The Jewish authorities were
filled to the brim with greed and haughtiness and did not
want the Lord to be their protector any longer. When Pilate
offered to release Jesus, their King, they cried, "we have
no king but Caesar… let His blood be on us and on our
How fearfully their cry was
fulfilled for in 70 A.D. Titus with his Roman legions
arrived at the outermost northern Wall of Jerusalem on the
Passover of 70 A.D. The Romans built embankments of
earthenwork, they placed battering rams and the siege began.
When Titus initiated his extreme assault into the Temple
area it was from the Antonia Fortress.
Over one million Jewish men
women and children were killed and 95,000 were taken as
The walls were battered
down, the great Temple was left in ashes, the city was
burned down, ruined and desolate, and the massive strength
of Jerusalem's fortifications Titus of Rome brought to
There will come a time when
the Jewish people as a whole will trust in the Lord again
and receive Jesus as their Messiah and protector.
The Bible mentions a lot regarding
Ezra 6:3 - In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same]
Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at
Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they
offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly
laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth
thereof threescore cubits;
1 Kings 12:27 - If this people go up to do sacrifice in the
house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart
of this people turn again unto their lord, [even] unto Rehoboam king
of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of
Zechariah 3:2 - And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD
rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem
rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
Jeremiah 44:9 - Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your
fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the
wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the
wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of
Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?
2 Kings 12:18 - And Jehoash king of Judah took all the
hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his
fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things,
and all the gold [that was] found in the treasures of the house of
the LORD, and in the king's house, and sent [it] to Hazael king of
Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.
Lamentations 2:13 - What thing shall I take to witness
for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of
Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort
thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach [is] great like the
sea: who can heal thee?
2 Kings 19:21 - This [is] the word that the LORD hath spoken
concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee,
[and] laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem
hath shaken her head at thee.
Isaiah 37:22 - This [is] the word which the LORD hath spoken
concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised
thee, [and] laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem
hath shaken her head at thee.
Jeremiah 24:1 - The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets
of figs [were] set before the temple of the LORD, after that
Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the
son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the
carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought
them to Babylon.
1 Chronicles 29:27 - And the time that he reigned over
Israel [was] forty years; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and
thirty and three [years] reigned he in Jerusalem.
Zechariah 14:4 - And his feet shall stand in that day
upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem
on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst
thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a
very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the
north, and half of it toward the south.
Isaiah 40:9 - O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee
up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest
good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift [it] up, be not
afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Isaiah 66:20 - And they shall bring all your brethren [for]
an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in
chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to
my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the
children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the
house of the LORD.
1 Kings 10:26 - And Solomon gathered together chariots and
horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and
twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for
chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 28:1 - And David assembled all the princes
of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the
companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains
over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards
over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons,
with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant
men, unto Jerusalem.
Samuel 5:5 - In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and
six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and
three years over all Israel and Judah.
Jeremiah 52:13 - And burned the house of the LORD, and
the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and
all the houses of the great [men], burned he with fire:
Joshua 15:8 - And the border went up by the valley of the
son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same [is]
Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the
mountain that [lieth] before the valley of Hinnom westward, which
[is] at the end of the valley of the giants northward:
Kings 25:8 - And in the fifth month, on the seventh [day] of
the month, which [is] the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant
of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
Kings 2:11 - And the days that David reigned over Israel
[were] forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and
three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 24:16 - And when the angel stretched out his
hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented
him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It
is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the
threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
5:17 - Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let
there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there
at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the
king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let
the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
Ecclesiastes 1:16 - I communed with mine own heart,
saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom
than all [they] that have been before me in Jerusalem:
yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
2 Samuel 10:14 - And when the children of Ammon saw that
the Syrians were fled, then fled they also before Abishai, and
entered into the city. So Joab returned from the children of Ammon,
and came to Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 17:12 - Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not
what these [things mean]? tell [them], Behold, the king of Babylon
is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof,
and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon;
1 Kings 14:21 - And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in
Judah. Rehoboam [was] forty and one years old when he began to
reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem,
the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel,
to put his name there. And his mother's name [was] Naamah an
Kings 23:5 - And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom
the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places
in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about
Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the
sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of
2 Chronicles 34:3 - For in the eighth year of his reign,
while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his
father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and
Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the
carved images, and the molten images.
Jeremiah 17:26 - And they shall come from the cities of
Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from
the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains,
and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and
meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto
the house of the LORD.
Nehemiah 13:19 - And it came to pass, that when the gates
of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I
commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they
should not be opened till after the sabbath: and [some] of my
servants set I at the gates, [that] there should no burden be
brought in on the sabbath day.
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Bibliography on Ancient Images
The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised
by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
Bible History Online
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