A copper alloy ring bearing the inscription “of Pilatus” may have belonged to Pontius Pilate. The ring was discovered in excavations of the Herodium in 1968–69, and a new study of it was requested by the current excavation director Roi Porat. The results of the investigation were published in the Israel Exploration Journal, and popular articles have been written in Haaretz (premium) and The Times of Israel. The latter article concludes:

As to whose ring it actually was, the authors offer a few suggestions, including other Early Roman period men called “Pilatus.” Likewise, the name may have referred to those under the historical Pilate’s command, a member of his family “or some of his freed slaves,” they write. “It is conceivable,” write the authors, “that this finger ring from a Jewish royal site might have belonged to a local individual, either a Jew, a Roman, or another pagan patron with the name Pilatus.” It did not, they conclude, belong to the Roman prefect himself. Porat offers another possibility, however. What if, maybe, Pilate had a gold ring for ceremonial duties and a simple copper ring for everyday wear? “There is no way of proving either theory 100% and everyone can have his own opinion,” said Porat. Regardless, “it’s a nice story and interesting to wrap your head around.”

The Israel Exploration Journal article is not online (as far as I can tell), but its abstract reads:

A simple copper-alloy ring dated to the first century BCE–mid-first century CE was discovered in the hilltop palace at Herodium. It depicts a krater circled by a Greek inscription, reading: ‘of Pilatus’. The article deals with the typology of ancient representations of kraters in Second Temple Jewish art and with the possibility that this ring might have belonged to Pontius Pilatus, the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea or to a person in his administration, either a Jew or a pagan.

HT: Alexander Schick


A high school student found a ballista ball from the Bar Kochba Revolt during recent excavations of Beitar.

Excavators working at Abel Beth Maacah discovered one of the earliest silver hoards ever found.

There’s more information about the excavation of the chariot race mosaic in Cyprus.

To make the looting of Syrian artifacts more difficult, the US State Department announced emergency import restrictions.

“Oxford University researchers say that trees which grew during intense radiation bursts in the past have ‘time-markers’ in their tree-rings that could help archaeologists date events from thousands of years ago.”

Wayne Stiles explains how the Herodium testifies to God’s sovereignty.

The New York Times is no fan of the Ben-Hur remake.

The Associates for Biblical Research are beginning to recruit for their first season of excavations at Shiloh next summer.

Leon Mauldin posts on the end of wicked Queen Athaliah and shares a photo of a model of Jerusalem at the Bible Lands Museum.

If you wanted to know a little more about Enoch’s journey through the world (referenced in
Thursday’s survey results), Paleojudaica explains.

The new NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is being released on Tuesday. It looks impressive, and you can flip through the entire books of Genesis and Matthew online to see for yourself.

Hundreds of photos, maps, and charts accompany study notes edited by John Walton (OT) and Craig
Keener (NT). The promotional website also includes videos and infographics.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer

Old City aerial at night from southwest, ws052016101
Our most re-tweeted photo of the week was this aerial photo taken by Bill Schlegel of Jerusalem from the southwest. The Citadel of David is in the foreground and the Mount of Olives is in the distance.

Archaeologists working at Laodicea have uncovered an inscription with the “water law” of the city from AD 114.

The mummy of King Tut will remain on display in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

A girl shattered a Roman vase in a display case at the Israel Museum. Or did she?

The Pope’s visit has inspired a new exhibit at the Penn Museum: “Sacred Writings: Extraordinary Texts of the Biblical World.”

Popular Archaeology runs a story on the latest discoveries on the Mount Zion dig.

Carl Rasmussen posts photos of two wall paintings from the Herodium now on display at the Israel Museum.

“The first Protecting the Past conference will be held in Amman (Jordan) between 28-30 September 2015 at The Jordan Museum.”

LiveScience has the latest on the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.”

The Biblical Archaeology Society’s Blowout Sale ends on Monday. Many items are marked down 50% or more.

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible has dropped in price to $26.18.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Paleojudaica

We’ve been posting a photo each day this year on Facebook and Twitter. Our most popular photo this week was this image of the City of David from the 1890s.

Jerusalem City of David and Mt of Olives, pcm02712
The City of David, Temple Mount, and the Mount of Olives

Archaeologists have discovered a Byzantine church near Abu Gosh during construction to widen Highway 1. UPI has five photos of the excavation. High-res photos may be downloaded here.

Haaretz has posted a 1-minute video in Hebrew with English subtitles.

The season at Khirbet el-Maqatir (Ai?) is underway with Bryant Wood giving a report from the first week and Suzanne Lattimer giving a report from the second week.

A summary of the first week of excavations at Tel Burna includes many photos.

If you’re interested in knowing more what’s involved in an archaeological excavation, you can check out this year’s manual for the Tell es-Safi/Gath excavation.

Israel has approved a scaled-down version of a visitor’s center in the City of David. Both sides claimed victory.

An Israeli judge ruled that Joe Zias overstepped the bounds of proper academic criticism and awarded a judgment of $200,000 to Simcha Jacobovici. Jacobovici had been seeking $3 million.

The Herodium and Herod’s palace at Jericho provide some striking geographic ironies of Jesus and Herod the Great.

PEF posts a photo with Starkey, Petrie, and Tufnell.

Ferrell Jenkins reports on recent changes made at the site of Capernaum.

Leon Mauldin explains and illustrates the significance of Nahal Besor.

Carl Rasmussen has long wanted a tour of the excavations under the Kishle and yesterday his wish was fulfilled.

The New York Times reports on how tourism in Jordan is suffering due to the conflict in Syria. That is too bad; Jordan is safe and has many important biblical sites.

Here are five reasons you shouldn’t buy that ancient artifact.

This week on the Book and the Spade Gary Burge discusses his new book, A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer


Israeli authorities have arrested 7 Bedouin for illegally excavating at Tel Ma’aravim.

Take a tour of all the discoveries in Ashkelon with Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am’s well-illustrated article in The Times of Israel.

If you haven’t already purchased Wayne Stiles’s Going Places with God, it’s now only $1.99 on Kindle (for a limited time).

The most detailed article on the Dome of the Rock carpet replacement job is at Israel HaYom.

Exploring Bible Lands shares photos with unique perspectives of the basilica in Nazareth and the spring of Harod.

Gary Manning discusses recent claims of the Talpiot Tomb on the Book and the Spade.

Learn why Jeff Blakely carries a roll of brand new US pennies in his dig bag.

I’ve never had a better perspective of Herodium than from this drone video (2.5 min).


The Passover sacrifice was reenacted recently by Jewish priests-in-training. The Times of Israel article includes a graphic 3-minute video.

Wayne Stiles explains how God connected Passover, redemption, and the Holy Land. He also shows how archaeology helps us to understand the Passion Week.

BibleX shares how one can illustrate the triumphal entry using photos from the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project found a finger from an Egyptian statue last week.

Leen Ritmeyer was recently interviewed on “Cry for Zion.” His blog lists some of the questions he was asked.

The Gazelle Valley Urban Wildlife Park opened in Jerusalem last week.

A.D. The Bible Continues airs Sunday evening on NBC. A trailer is online.

David Laskin visits sites related to King Herod in a travel piece in the New York Times.

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Egyptian brewery in Tel Aviv.

Passages opened yesterday in Santa Clarita, California.

The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, has re-opened after a five-year restoration. This is the only museum entirely devoted to Egyptian culture outside of Egypt.

A new technology will reduce the length of time required for carbon-14 dating from six weeks to two days.

Accordance’s 20% off sale ends on Monday (with code Celeb2). That discount applies to our own photo collections, including The American Colony Collection ($30 off), Views That Have Vanished, and the new ones: Cultural Images of the Holy Land and Trees, Plants, and Flowers of the Holy Land.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer