A 2,000-year-old bronze ring could have been worn by Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect who ordered Jesus to be crucified, archaeologists say. The ring was first unearthed 50 years ago at Herodium, a fortress built by King Herod, but archaeologists recently examined it and found the word, ‘Pilatus’ on the ring. The writing was found after scientists from the Israel Antiquities Authority cleaned and photographed the ring, which showed a wine vessel called a ‘krater’.
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Pilate, the prefect of Judaea, is thought to have ordered the death of Jesus of Nazareth – but is portrayed in the gospels as having done so reluctantly. Professor Danny Schwartz told Israeli news outlet Haaretz, ‘I don’t know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth.
Roi Porat, director of the dig at Herodium said, ‘the personal connection just cries out’. But others suggest that the ring might have been used by a member of Pilate’s staff to stamp documents.
The researchers wrote, ‘Simple all-metal rings were primarily the property of soldiers, Herodian and Roman officials, and middle-income folk of all trades and occupations. ‘It is therefore unlikely that Pontius Pilatus, the powerful and rich prefect of Judaea, would have worn a thin, all copper-alloy sealing ring.’