Significant Roman Inscription Found On Mediterranean Rock Off Israel

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A large rock discovered on the Mediterranean seabed off Israel earlier this year has on its surface a 1,900-year old inscription naming a Roman ruler of Judea whose identity was unknown to modern researchers. The inscription bears the name Gargilius Antiques and mentioning the province of Judea, The Times of Israel reported yesterday (Dec. 1).

The paper said that archaeologists have been able to determine that Antiques ruled over the Judean province before the 132-136 A.D. Bar Kochba (or Kockba) Revolt of Jews against the Romans. Also known as the Third Jewish-Roman War, or the Third Jewish Revolt, this one was finally put down by a massive Roman force led by Sextus Julius Severrus, Wikipedia says.

The rock hearing Antiques’ name was discovered by Jewish divers working with the University of Haifa. Believed to be the base of a statue, the rock was found last January during a maritime excavation at the Tel Dor archaeological site. The city of Tel Dor was an important Roman port that was active until at least the 4th century, The Times said.

The rock, measuring 70 by 65 centimeters and weighing over 600 kilograms, was covered in sea creatures when it was discovered, according to Haaretz.

Not only were we able for the first time to identify with certainty the name of the ruler who oversaw Judea in the critical years the Bar Kochba revolt; this is also just the second time that the mention of Judea has been discovered in inscriptions traced back to Roman era,” said Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of Haifa University, who was in charge of deciphering the text.

Antiques’s name was first found in an inscription some 70 years ago, but mention of the territory he ruled over was not preserved.

At seven lines, the text discovered this year, Yasur-Landau said, “is the longest discovered in maritime excavations in Israel.”

It is missing a portion but is believed to read: “The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea, as well as […] of the province of Syria, and patron of the city of Dor.”

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