The Pontius Pilate Inscription

Pilate inscription
The Pilate inscription.
Photo:David Makepeace

In the Bible accounts, Pontius Pilate was the Roman Governor responsible for ordering Jesus to be put to death. See Matthew's Gospel chapter 27 verses 1-2, 11-26 and 57-66, Mark's Gospel chapter 15 verses 1-15 and 42-47, Luke's Gospel chapter 23 verses 1-7, 11-25, 50-56, and John's Gospel chapter 18 verse 28 to chapter 19 verse 42.

Until recently, there was no contemporary evidence outside the Bible for Pilate's existence (although Tacitus, Josephus, and Philo all wrote about him). Then in 1961, Italian archaeologists excavating the theatre at Caesarea found this stone inscription of Pontius Pilate. Coins have also been found dating from Pilate's rule as governor.

The inscription is in a block of limestone 82 x 68 x 20 cm. Although the left-hand side of the words are missing, they can be reconstructed as follows:


The inscription appears to be about a temple that Pilate built at Caesarea in honour of the Roman emperor Tiberius (called a Tiberieum).

Close up of Pilate inscription
Close-up of Pilate inscription

For more about the Pilate inscription, see pages 226-227 of 'Discoveries from Bible Times', by Professor Alan Millard.

Once again, archaeology provides confirmation that the Bible is about real people and real places.

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