A ring from the era when Rome ruled the Holy Land has been found, and it bears an early Christian symbol of the Good Shepherd.
The ring was found in an excavation of a shipwreck off the coast of the ancient port of Caesarea, according to CBS.
The gold ring had an octagonal shape with a green stone set into the thick gold, showing a young shepherd boy in a tunic with a sheep across his shoulders.
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the ring was found amid a stash of third-century Roman coins, which also included Roman-era figurines.
Israel Antiquities Authority marine survey off the coast of Caesarea has recovered treasure from 2 ancient shipwrecks, including hundreds of silver coins, figurines and a gold ring engraved with the figure of the Good Shepherd, a well-known symbol of Jesus in early Christian art. pic.twitter.com/6u6RtNiEA5
— Holyland Productions (@NewsHolyland) December 22, 2021
“The spectacular items were part of a cargo of two ships, which exploded off the shores of Caesarea during the Roman and royal period (about 1,700 years ago and about 600 years ago),” the authority said.
“Many metal parts belonging to a wooden ship body were discovered, including dozens of large bronze signs, lead pipes belonging to a water pump and a large iron anchor,” the authority explained. The metal showed signs of being worn by a storm until it broke.
The wreckage was “revealed in a submarine survey of the Ancient Authority’s marine archaeology in recent months,” the IAA stated on its Facebook page.
“The findings tell the story of two ships that crashed on their passengers, during different periods, probably when they tried to drive or find shelter from storms,” the authority said in their post.
“This image, of the ‘Good Shepherd,’ is known in ancient Christian art as a symbol of salvation; it is a parable of Jesus as the merciful shepherd of mankind, or as the one who has shown the protection of man or the testimony of his believers,” the IAA explained.
Roman-era gold ring with early Christian symbol for #Jesus inscribed in its gemstone, found in shipwreck near the ancient port of Caesarea, Israel. https://t.co/qNqlX5XcBC #RomanMiddleEast #Israel #Archaeology #RomanArchaeology pic.twitter.com/mnxCIIFxE0
— Roman Middle East (@RomanMiddleEast) December 22, 2021
As noted by CBN: The theme of the Good Shepherd is throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”
Jesus called himself a shepherd. The News Testament says in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Helena Sokolov, a curator at the IAA’s coin department who studied the Good Shepherd ring, said finding the early Christian symbol on a ring was very rare.
“This was a period when Christianity was just in its beginning, but definitely growing and developing, especially in mixed cities like Caesarea,” she said, according to CBS.
Because the overall ring size is small. Sokolov thinks it could have belonged to a woman.
Centuries-old Good Shepherd ring recovered from shipwrecks off Israel: The gold ring has a green gemstone engraved with a figure of a young boy bearing a ram or sheep on his shoulders. https://t.co/09oqzhMBP0
— SA Breaking News (@SABreakingNews) December 22, 2021
In the third century, Caesarea was a prominent political center, as well as a trading hub in which a Roman citizen could have well worn a ring with a Christian image upon it.
Sokolov noted that although at the time Christianity was an “underground” faith, the era and place in which the ring was found were such that a wealthy Roman would be able to wear a ring without fear.
In the New Testament Book of Acts, Caesarea is the location in which Peter baptized the Roman centurion Cornelius.
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