An ancient ring found in Bethlehem belonged to the man who crucified Jesus, scientists believe.
It had an inscription on it which included a picture of a wine vessel surrounded by Greek writing but it was unclear who it had belonged to.
Five decades after its discovery, the identity of the owner appears to have been established: the Roman governor of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate - the man who ordered that Jesus be crucified and then ran the subsequent trial.
The name was deciphered after a thorough cleansing, when it was photographed with the use of a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority labs, according to Haaretz.
It is thought the item is a “stamping ring”, which would have been used to symbolise the status of the cavalry in Roman times.
As the governor, Pilate, who was also known as Pilatus, would have worn a ring of this nature.
Professor Danny Schwartz, from the Columbian College of Arts and Science, said the name Pilate was incredibly rare at the time.
“I don’t know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth,” Mr Schwartz said.
The findings were handed over to the current team that works at the site, led by Dr Roee Porath, also from Hebrew University.
He said: "You can see he had a natural link to the Herodion. Even for Herod it was more than just a tomb site with a palace. It was also a significant site of government. You can see the unusual significance this site had."
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