Photo: JACK GUEZ / AFP / Getty Images
“Exquisite and rare”: this is how the Israel Antiquities Authority described a gold ring from the Roman era with an image used by early Christians to symbolize Jesus and that it was found by archaeologists off the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
The agency said that the jewel has a green gemstone carved with the figure of a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders; in the Bible, Jesus describes himself as the “Good Shepherd.”
The ring was one of the items discovered in two shipwrecks near the ancient port of Caesarea.
The other treasures include hundreds of Roman silver and bronze coins from the middle of the third century and a large shipment of silver coins from the beginning of the fourteenth century.
Archaeologists also found figures from Roman times in the shape of an eagle and of a theater actor with a comic mask; bronze bells designed to ward off evil spirits and a ring with a red gemstone carved with a lyre.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said the remains of the ships’ hulls and their cargoes were found scattered on the seabed at a depth of about 4 meters.
“The ships were probably anchored nearby and were destroyed by a storm,” said Jacob Sharvit of the agency’s Marine Archeology Unit.
Caesarea was home to one of the earliest Christian communities and, according to the New Testament, it was where the Apostle Peter baptized Cornelius the Centurion, the first Gentile (not Jewish, pagan, or foreigner) to be converted to the Christian faith.
“This was the first case in which a non-Jew was accepted into the Christian community,” Sharvit detailed. “From here, the Christian religion began to spread throughout the world.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.