Pilate Stone

a rare archeological find

So the Pilate stone is a damaged block of carved limestone with a partially intact inscription attributed to, and mentioning, Pontius Pilate, a prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from CE 26 to 36. It was discovered at the archaeological site of Caesarea Maritima in 1961. Consequently, the artifact is particularly significant because it is an archaeological find of an authentic 1st-century Roman inscription mentioning the name “[Pont]ius Pilatus”. In fact, it is contemporary to Pilate’s lifetime and accords with what is known of his reported career.

In effect, the inscription constitutes the earliest surviving, and only contemporary, record of Pilate; who is otherwise known from the New Testament; the Jewish historian Josephus and writer Philo, and brief references by Roman historians such as Tacitus. It is likely that Pontius Pilate made his base at Caesarea Maritima – the site where the stone was discovered since that city had replaced Jerusalem as the administrative capital and military headquarters of the province in CE 6. Therefore Pilate probably traveled to Jerusalem, the central city of the province’s Jewish population, only when necessary.

Moreover, the Pilate stone is currently located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Plaster-cast replicas can be found at the Archaeological Museum in Milan, Italy, and on display in Caesarea Maritima itself. 

Pilate Stone: The Inscription 

On the partially damaged block is a dedication to the deified Augustus and Livia (“the Divine Augusti”); the stepfather and mother of emperor Tiberius; originally placed within a Tiberieum, probably a temple dedicated to Tiberius. It has been deemed authentic because it was discovered in the coastal town of Caesarea, which was the capital of Iudaea Province during the time Pontius Pilate was Roman governor.

So the partial inscription reads (conjectural letters in brackets):

[DIS AUGUSTI]S TIBERIÉUM
[…PONTI]US PILATUS
[…PRAEF]ECTUS IUDA[EA]E
[…FECIT D]E[DICAVIT]

The translation from Latin to English for the inscription reads:

To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum
…Pontius Pilate
…prefect of Judea
…has dedicated [this]

Discovery

The limestone block was discovered in June 1961 by Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Antonio Frova while excavating in the area of an ancient theatre built by decree of Herod the Great around 22–10 BCE; along with the entire city of Caesarea.

Furthermore, the artifact is a fragment of the dedicatory inscription of a later building; probably a temple, that was constructed; possibly in honor of the emperor Tiberius, dating to 26–36 CE.

Moreover, the stone was then reused in the 4th century as a building block for a set of stairs belonging to a structure erected behind the stage house of the Herodian theatre, and it was discovered there; still attached to the ancient staircase, by the archaeologists.





apt-stamp-white@2x
arik-about

Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter

RELATED POSTS

Chicago University Excavations at Megiddo

Chicago University Excavations at Megiddo was unprecedented in its scale. As World War I wound down in 1919, James Henry Breasted initiates the foundation of ...

The Temple at Ein Gedi

The Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi is one of the three sanctuaries dated to the Chalcolithic period that can be found in the area.

King Herod’s Palaces

King Herod's Palaces are part of his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including the fortress at Masada, and Herodium.

Nahal Mishmar Treasure

Nahal Mishmar Treasure is an astonishing hoard of 429 ritual objects was discovered in 1961 in a cave near Ein Gedi.

Caesarea´s Roman Port

Caesarea´s Roman Port was one of the most impressive harbors of its time. It served as an important commercial harbor in antiquity.

Walls of Jerusalem

The walls of Jerusalem in particular the first wall are crucial for any tour of Jerusalem. They were built after Cyrus II of Persia.

The Old Synagogue at Meron

The Old Synagogue at Meron is one of the oldest synagogues found in Israel. And is the earliest example of the so-called 'Galilean' synagogues

Archaeological Discoveries in Caesarea Maritima

There are many Archaeological Discoveries in Caesarea Maritima, some of them are simply fascinating! To learn all about them, click here!

Tel Dan Stele

So the Tel Dan Stele is a fragmentary stele containing a Canaanite inscription, discovered in 1993 in Tel Dan by Gila Cook; a member of ...

Edward Robinson

Edward Robinson is the Father of Biblical Archeology. He is the first archeologist in the Holy Land that conducted excavations like a scholar

Need help?

Skip to content