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Pontius Pilate's Ring Found in King Herod's Fortress

On the eve of Advent, the holiday season leading up to Christmas, archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a symbol of Pontius Pilate — the Roman governor who ordered Jesus Christ's crucifixion — in the palace built by King Herod, the ruler who attempted to kill Jesus in the crib.

Researchers led by Roi Porat from Hebrew University of Jerusalem deciphered the symbol on a ring discovered 50 years ago in a dig led by the professor Gideon Foerster, Fox News reported. Foerster's team found the ring at Herodion, a fortress Herod built to be his winter palace.

Intense cleaning and a specialist camera revealed a wine vessel and the Greek inscription "Pilatus." Haaretz's Nir Hasson reported that "Pilatus" is a very rare name for the time and the area. "I don't know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth," professor Danny Schwartz told Haaretz.

The ring in particular is a stamping ring, a hallmark of status in the Roman cavalry, to which Pilate belonged. Researchers have concluded that either Pilate himself or his staff used it to ratify official documents.

The researchers published their report in the Israel Exploration Journal.

Many recent archaeological finds have backed up the Bible, including evidence of King Hezekiah, the Philistines, and a clay seal that may bear the signature of the prophet Isaiah.

Christians believe that the key events of the Old and New Testaments took place in history, and Christmas celebrates one of the most important events — the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. This latest discovery should make Christmas a bit more merry, even though Pilate himself had nothing to do with Jesus's birth.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.