A.D. 26-36 – Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate, the 5th Prefect of Iudaea (Judea)

Pilate was appointed to his office in A.D. 26 and his rule lasted until he was deposed (after he suppressed a Samaritan uprising) by the new Syrian Legate Lucius Vitellius in A.D. 36. Of course, Pilate is the roman ruler who is known for adjudicating on the trial of Jesus Christ and who reticently ordered the crucifixion of Christ after examining Christ and finding “no wrong in him”.

The historical fact of Pilate’s rule as the Prefect of Judea is evidenced by the Pilate Stone. The Pilate stone is a damaged block (82 cm x 65 cm) of carved limestone with a partially intact inscription attributed to, and mentioning, Pontius Pilate, a prefect of the Roman province of Judea from AD 26 to 36. It was discovered at the archaeological site of Caesarea Maritima in 1961. The artifact is particularly significant because it is an archaeological find of an authentic 1st-century Roman inscription mentioning the name “Pontius Pilatus“. It is contemporary to Pilate’s lifetime, and accords with what is known of his reported career. In effect, the writing constitutes the earliest surviving record and a contemporaneous evidence for the historical existence of Pilate. Other known references to him are from the New Testament, Jewish literature and brief mentions in retrospective Roman histories, which have themselves survived only in still-later copies

The Pilot Stone

It is likely that Pontius Pilate made his base at Caesarea Maritima, a city that had replaced Jerusalem since AD 6 as the administrative capital and military headquarters of the province, and the site where the stone was discovered. Pilate probably traveled to Jerusalem, the central city of the province’s Jewish population, only as often as necessary. The Pilate stone is currently located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.